Alexa Prize TaskBot Challenge
The first conversational AI challenge to incorporate multimodal (voice and vision) customer experiences.
The Alexa Prize TaskBot Challenge will see university teams compete to develop agents that assist customers in completing tasks requiring multiple steps and decisions. It's the first conversational AI challenge to incorporate multimodal (voice and vision) customer experiences.
The idea for the new challenge emerged last year, and aligns with a goal for Alexa to create next-generation conversational AI shopping experiences by engaging customers in pre- and post-purchase dialogues. The TaskBot Challenge will run for three years, and initially teams will focus on two domains: cooking and home improvement. The challenge incorporates multimodal customer experiences, so in addition to receiving verbal instructions, customers with Echo screen devices, such as the new Echo Show 10, could also be presented with step-by-step instructions, images, or diagrams that enhance task guidance.
For example, a customer might ask Alexa how to fix a scratch on a car. The TaskBot will then ask the customer more questions about their task, and then interactively provide step-by-step instructions and explanations for each step, or potentially adjust its plan based on customer input.
This new Alexa Prize challenge represents a major step towards Alexa becoming the best digital assistant, by interactively assisting customers to complete everyday tasks, be it in cooking or home improvement.
After the interaction ends, the customer will be asked to rate how helpful that TaskBot was with the task, and will have the option to provide freeform feedback to help the teams improve their TaskBot.
Success in the challenge will require participants to advance the state of the art in conversational AI, and address difficult science challenges related to knowledge representation and inference, commonsense and causal reasoning, and language understanding and generation, among others — requiring synthesis of multiple areas and approaches in AI.
Another scientific challenge will be how the participating teams guide a customer through complex, multi-step plans that may need to be revised if, for instance, the customer needs to substitute an ingredient, or doesn’t have a tool required to complete the task.
The application period for the challenge begins on March 17, and extends to April 16, 2021. Up to ten teams will be selected to participate in the challenge by June 11, and the competition will begin on June 14. The year-long competition will conclude in May 2022, with winners being announced the following month.
Teams selected for the challenge receive a $250,000 research grant, Alexa-enabled devices, free Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing services to support their research and development efforts, access to the TaskBot Toolkit, as well as other resources data, and Alexa team support. The winning team receives a $500,000 prize, and the second- and third-place teams receive prizes of $100,000 and $50,000, respectively.
How to apply
The Alexa Prize Taskbot Challenge application is hosted on the YouNooodle platform. To begin your application you must have a YouNoodle account. Please create your account by clicking “Create Account” or login below using your existing YouNoodle.com credentials. If you have started your application a link to it will also show below.