Amazon Selects Alexa Prize TaskBot Challenge 2 Contestants


Are you ready to see the future of voice-enabled AI? Then you won’t want to miss the upcoming Alexa Prize TaskBot Challenge! On February 16, 2023, Amazon has chosen the 10 teams that will compete in the second Alexa Prize TaskBot Challenge. This international collection of university teams will be working to prove their multi-modal voice apps are the best at guiding a user through conversation to complete complex tasks. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the TaskBot Challenge, the teams that have been chosen, and what Amazon hopes to achieve with this competition.

What is the Alexa Prize TaskBot Challenge?

The TaskBot Challenge looks to enhance Amazon Alexa’s capacity to engage in longer conversations that involve multiple interactions to accomplish a goal, like building furniture or cooking a meal. The developers are trying to go beyond the standard one-to-one ratio of human requests and AI actions. Even an Alexa routine with multiple parts is still really one command and one collection of errands for the voice assistant. Amazon wants TaskBots to guide users all the way through a project. That means possible upgrades to Alexa’s voice commerce and shopping abilities to enable users to list and purchase all the components and ingredients they need.

Who are the Teams Competing in the TaskBot Challenge?

For the first TaskBot Challenge, participants were asked for entries centered around either home improvement or cooking, but opened the current contest to “more hobbies and at-home activities.” The teams also need to augment their app with visuals, such as diagrams or photographs, for a multi-modal experience. The ten university teams and their projects, divided by whether they are a new or returning contestant, are:

Returning
TWIZ – NOVA School of Science and Technology
EvoquerBOT – Penn State University
Taco 2.0 – The Ohio State University
GRILL – University of Glasgow
Maruna – University of Massachusetts Amherst

New
BoilerBot – Purdue University
DiWBot – Rutgers University
Sage – University of California, Santa Cruz
ISABEL – University of Pittsburgh
PLAN-Bot – Virginia Tech

Each team receives a $250,000 research grant and various Amazon tech services. Alexa customers can test out the TaskBots starting in May by saying, “Alexa, let’s work together.” The winners will be announced in September, with $500,000 awarded to the top team. The second and third-place teams will get $100,000 and $50,000, respectively.

What Are Amazon’s Goals for the TaskBot Challenge?

The University of Glasgow and its GRILLBot won the first TaskBot Challenge in June, with NOVA School’s Twiz as runner-up and Ohio State University’s TacoBot in third. “I am delighted to see that new teams are joining the second year of the competition together with returning teams, who, by competing again, are signaling to us that they found value in the TaskBot challenge,” Amazon Shopping research and science vice president Yoelle Maarek said. “We expect these talented graduate students to continue surprising us, as well as Amazon customers, this year. Connecting academia, Amazonians, and actual customers experimenting with TaskBots, is a winning combination to keep pushing the boundaries of science in conversational AI for Alexa to delight and ease the lives of millions of customers.”

The upcoming Alexa Prize TaskBot Challenge is sure to be an exciting event. Ten teams of international university students will be competing to prove their multi-modal voice apps are the best at guiding a user through conversation to complete complex tasks. With the potential for upgrades to Alexa’s voice commerce and shopping abilities, this competition promises to be a great opportunity to explore the boundaries of AI innovation. Be sure to follow @voicebotai and @erichschwartz to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the TaskBot Challenge.

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