Amazon Picks Alexa Prize SimBot Challenge Finalists

Amazon has chosen the five finalist university teams for the first Alexa Prize SimBot Challenge. The virtual robotic assistants built by the chosen teams The judges picked the teams based on their robot’s performance and by evaluating their related technical papers on teaching tools to train robots to help people in the real world.

SimBot Setup

The objective of the SimBot Challenge is to enhance the use of AI in digital robots. Participating teams were chosen in early 2022 and tasked with developing a machine-learning model that incorporates natural language understanding, enabling the robots to interact with humans and carry out tasks. The AI had to be capable of learning from human and sensory feedback how to navigate its virtual surroundings, handle objects, and complete its tasks in the virtual and physical worlds. They then competed in the Alexa Prize’s first public benchmark phase, where their performances were ranked, including against a bigger pool of teams Amazon deemed eligible. The benchmark challenge was planned in tandem with the public release of the TEACh dataset, a collection of more than 3,000 conversations between simulated users and robots. These conversations involve discussing methods for managing household tasks, with the human providing step-by-step instructions to the robot along with simulated visual data.

“Next generation autonomous AI assistants will need to be robust and versatile, capable of learning and solving challenging tasks that require multimodal interactions with humans, other agents and the environment,” said Alexa AI Prize head and Alexa AI senior principal scientist Reza Ghanadan.  “It’s wonderful to see the tremendous talent, creativity, passion and contributions of all Alexa Prize SimBot teams during this inaugural challenge towards accelerating the science of robust human AI interactions and conversational embodied AI.”

The final segment of the competition will hinge in part on public feedback to the robots in a game playable on Fire TVs and the Echo Show smart display. Players will coach virtual versions of the robots in digital environments and try to solve ever more complex tasks. Players can then share their thoughts on how well the robot responded to commands and processed sensory input, with feedback going to the teams to help them with their research. You can start a game by saying “Alexa, play with robot” on either type of device. The winning teams will be selected after the SimBot Challenge finals event in the first week of May.  The winning team will receive $500,000, with second and third-place teams receiving $100,000 and $50,000, respectively.

The five finalist university teams and their projects are:

GauchoAI University of California, Santa Barbara
SEAGULL University of Michigan
SlugJARVIS University of California, Santa Cruz
ScottyBot Carnegie Mellon University
Team EMMA Heriot-Watt University


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