Contest Event Chair: Lisa Meeden
Robots are allowed to touch attendees. Specifically, in their attempt to serve food, a robot may "nudge" a person in order to get through a crowd and serve food to other groups of people. Preference is given to robots that can accomplish this without touching, but it is better to nudge people than to stay stranded in a single spot all evening. Note that hurting people by making hard or continued contact, or rolling over toes will be heavily penalized (and the robots may be banned from further competition). Consider this to be along the lines of Asimov's Rules of Robotics!
In addition to emphasizing interaction with attendees, we encourage manipulation, either by refilling serving trays autonomously, or in physically handing out the food to the attendees.
Although the exact scoring "formula" is not yet available, the following guidelines should be used. These are roughly ordered from minimum requirements to special credit:
The overall competition will be divided into two events. All contestants must first compete in the qualification/safety event and if deemed safe can then compete in the reception event.
The first round, which is mandatory, will be a qualification/safety round. During this round, the robot, one team member, the judges, and a small group of specially selected "party attendees," will be in the vicinity of the robot. In this round, each robot will be evaluated in three areas:
The environment will not be engineered for the event. Do not assume the floor is flat. You can assume that cabling might lay on the floor, or that the robot might need to pass over bare floor to carpeted areas. Furniture and other structures will be natural and may not be marked or altered for the sake of the robots. The crowd will not be limited. We believe that better robots will avoid getting too close to the main food table since the people near that table do not need to be served from a tray, and since getting near the food table will almost guarantee that you will be in a hopelessly crowded situation! Remember that human servers tend to serve the fringe areas.
The food to be served will be provided by AAAI/conference services and will consist of mixed nuts, pretzels, silver dollar rolls filled with deli meats and cheeses, as well as cubed cheeses and crackers. An exception will be made for teams who wish to focus on manipulation. In this case, teams may supply their own food, but should keep the rules committee informed of their plans. Only one handler from each team will be allowed with the robot, and will stay relatively close to the robot, but will not be allowed to control the robot, except in specially allowed circumstances that are described below. Handlers should NOT interact with the attendees. We recommend that all robots have a clearly visible emergency stop button for safety reasons.
Robots will have a serving tray (please provide your own tray). At a minimum, the handlers will refill these trays when they are empty by signaling to an additional team member who will be allowed to bring additional food to the handler. If possible, additional points will be given if the robot can detect when its serving tray needs to be refilled, and indicates this to the handler. Even more points will be given if the robot, in addition to detecting the need for more food, navigates to the teams "refill" location. For those teams in the pen, the refill area will be along the side of the ring. The refill area will be somewhere in the exhibit hall away from the main table, but not too far away. Each team will be assigned this area, approximately 2 meters in diameter, at least several hours prior to the contest. This refill area may be marked by the team with a sign or special mark. We would favor robots that found its refill station via visual recognition of a marker than via dead reckoning. Markers that are more *natural* are better then markers that are completely artificial.
Of greatest importance this year will be a series of Technical Innovation Awards that will be given for specific accomplishments. These will highlight entries that have some noteworthy innovation regardless of how well the entry performed in the competition, and will be awarded in such areas as:
This is NOT an exclusive list. Also, there is no guarantee that any particular Technical Innovation Awards will be granted in a given area. The awards will be granted as deserved.
In addition to the Technical Innovation Awards, the reception event will have a first, second, and third place award for technical merit, based on the judges' scores from the Qualification/Safety Round and from the performance in the reception event. In order to determine these prizes, robots will actually be scored based on reaching various levels of competency. Some of these competencies are binary, and others involve some scoring function. The details of the scoring functions are not decided at this time!
The reception event will also have a popular vote for the attendees favorite robot.
Each contestant will be given a list of items to find. These items will depend on a variety of sensors, including auditory, range finding, and vision. We want to encourage all kinds of entries, therefore contestants need not solve all aspects of the task to compete. Minimum requirements are a mobile robot.
Here are some examples of what items might be included in the hunt:
A small set of objects (no more than 10) will be selected in advance. View digital pictures of these objects. A few additional objects (no more than 5) may be added at the competition. The objects will be located from floor-level up to desk-level (2.5-3 ft).
The environment will not be engineered for the event, except that the density of people will be relatively low. For instance, crowding around a robot will not be allowed. There will be no penned area as in previous competitions. Furniture and other structures will be natural and may not be marked or altered for the sake of the robots. The objects will be located within a fixed radius from the starting point. The exact radius will be determined at the competition but expect it to be on the order of 25-50 yds.
Robots must clearly report the location of the scavenger hunt items found. This report may be in the form of a natural language utterance, a map of the environment showing the location of items, or if the item can be manipulated, by picking up the object and returning it to the starting point.
Contestants may enter a team of robots and will be more favorably judged if they demonstrate some form of cooperation.
Ideally we would like each hunt to include multiple contestants (the number will depend on the radius of the competition area). This will add to the excitement of the search. However we realize that this may create interference (such as picking up the sonar signals from other robots). Teams should not attempt to purposely disrupt the other competitors.
The robots will be evaluated by a panel of judges. A subjective score between 1 and 10 will be determined by each judge. These scores will be averaged to produce a final score. The contestants will be evaluated on overall success as well as on any particular abilities they incorporate into their solutions, such as:
A overall first and second place will be determined.