TaskBot Challenge FAQs
Frequently asked questions about the challenge.
What is a TaskBot?
A TaskBot is a conversational agent that assists customers in completing DIY and Cooking tasks requiring multiple steps and decisions. It is the second conversational AI challenge to incorporate multimodal (voice and vision) customer experiences.
Can I choose to build any type of conversational bot?
No, you must build a TaskBot.
What will my TaskBot do?
A TaskBot helps customers complete tasks that require multiple steps and decisions in target domains such as hobbies and at-home activities such as Home Improvement and Cooking. For example, customers could ask a TaskBot to help them “bake a healthy birthday cake”. A successful TaskBot will be able to discuss different approaches to nutrition and understand individual customer’s preferences. It would then walk the customer through baking a cake step-by-step, while solving problems arising along the way, e.g., missing ingredients, and continue the conversation over multiple-days sessions.
How will I build my TaskBot?
You will use the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) to build an Alexa skill, hosted on AWS Lambda that will create the end-to-end conversational experience for a user. Using the provided APIs, your skill will receive as input the text of the user’s utterance, and produce as output a text sentence that will be spoken to the user. You do not need to tackle ASR (automatic speech recognition) or TTS (text to speech). You will also be provided with the TaskBot Toolkit (a conversational bot toolkit), a software development kit that works with ASK and was built specifically for Alexa Prize teams to reduce the involved engineering in setting up a TaskBot and allow teams to focus on the science.
Your skill will need to determine an appropriate response at each turn of the conversation. You may use additional data sources or libraries if you wish, subject to the terms described in the Official Rules.
What is the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK)?
The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is a collection of free, self-service APIs, tools, documentation, and code samples that make it fast and easy for you to add skills to Alexa. Your team will use ASK to build, deploy, and test a TaskBot that is capable of conversing with millions of Alexa users.
What is TaskBot toolkit?
TaskBot, is a conversational bot toolkit in Python for natural language understanding and dialog management. The toolkit provides a set of tools, libraries and base models designed to help develop, train and deploy multimodal conversational experiences through the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), and to provide uniform visual look for TaskBots on screened devices. The primary goal of the toolkit is to drive improved quality of conversational agents by providing a solution that is modular, extensible, and scalable, and provide abstractions for infrastructure and low-level tasks.
How will winners be selected?
Through various phases of the competition, TaskBots will be evaluated based on feedback from Alexa users and assessment by Amazon.
Midway through the competition, all TaskBots that have been certified and published will be evaluated by Alexa users and Amazon. As defined in the Official Rules, TaskBots that meet the required criteria will advance to later phases of the competition and eventually the semifinals.
During the semifinals round, Alexa users will evaluate the semifinalist TaskBots. Two TaskBots selected by Alexa users and up to three TaskBots selected by the Amazon panel will advance to the finals. During the finals in September 2023, the finalist teams will compete head-to-head in front of judges. The judges will score the TaskBots on their ability to successfully complete the task requested.
Will this competition be judged like a Turing Test?
No. The goal of the Alexa Prize is to create TaskBots that fluently and effectively assist the user, not to make them indistinguishable from a human when compared side-by-side. While the TaskBots built for the Alexa Prize will be human-like in some respects, they will be very different in others, and could easily reveal themselves in a Turing Test. For example, TaskBots may have ready access to much more information than a human. Asking the TaskBots to act like a human could diminish the customer experience and hinder the efforts of the participants to build the best TaskBot to further conversational AI.
When and where is the finals event?
The finals event will be held in September 2023 at a location to be determined, with the results will be announced in September 2023.
Can we use other funding to help us participate in this challenge?
Yes, you may use other funding to support your team, subject to the terms described in the Official Rules. External funding must be disclosed to Amazon.
Can we use technology other than AWS to host our TaskBot?
Your team may build its TaskBot in any framework of your choosing, but the TaskBot must be hosted on AWS to leverage Alexa’s TaskBot toolkit.
Will Alexa customers be able to engage with our TaskBot?
Your team will be required to submit its TaskBot for certification and publication by the Amazon Alexa team. After certification, you will enter the Internal Amazon Beta Period, where Amazon employees will test your TaskBot and provide feedback. After the Internal Amazon Beta Period, we will allow Alexa users to try your TaskBot and provide feedback to you. Amazon may impose requirements that the TaskBots must meet before they will be made available to Alexa users. Such requirements, specified in the Official Rules, may include, among other things, a minimum average customer rating, uptime requirements, or the ability to consistently filter offensive content.
Which Alexa users will be able to interact with the TaskBots, and what languages must they support?
TaskBots will be made available to Alexa users in the United States or who select the United States as their preferred marketplace. Your team must build its TaskBot using U.S. English.
Will we publish our research from the Alexa Prize?
Yes. Publishing research papers as an outcome of your work on Alexa Prize is required for all teams participating in the competition, although teams may not publish Amazon confidential information, as described in the Official Rules. The Alexa Prize requires all teams to submit a technical paper for the Alexa Prize proceedings. Your TaskBot will not be selected for the finals if your team does not submit a technical paper for Alexa Prize proceedings. Papers will be published online at the end of the competition and made publicly available.
Teams may also publish research papers in third-party publications and conferences, as long as all papers are provided to Amazon for review at least two weeks before the submission deadlines and no research papers are published before the Alexa Prize proceedings are published, unless Amazon approves otherwise in writing.
Who will own the intellectual property rights in my submission?
You will retain ownership over your TaskBot. Amazon will have a non-exclusive license to any technology or software you develop in connection with the competition. See the Official Rules for details.
Who can apply to participate?
The Alexa Prize is open to full-time students enrolled in an accredited university, with the exception of universities in Cuba, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Sudan, the region of Crimea, and where prohibited by law (see Official Rules). Proof of enrollment will be required to participate.
Can I participate if I don’t attend a university?
No. The Alexa Prize is open only to full-time enrolled university students.
Do I need to be enrolled in a university program throughout my participation in the competition?
All participating team members must remain full-time students in good standing at their university while participating in the competition.
Do I need to be a certain age?
Participants must be at or above the age of majority in the country, state, province or jurisdiction of residence at the time of entry.
Can I enroll if a family member is an Amazon employee?
Immediate family members and household members of Amazon employees, directors, and contractors are not eligible to participate. See Official Rules for additional restrictions.
How many teams will be selected to participate?
All applications will be reviewed and evaluated by Amazon. Up to ten teams will be selected and sponsored by Amazon. All teams will receive a $250,000 grant intended to support two full-time students and a month of faculty time, free Alexa devices, and free AWS hosting including access to CPU and GPU based machines, SQL and NoSQL databases, and object storage. See the Official Rules for details.
How many team members can our team have?
There is no minimum or maximum number of team members. All team members must be enrolled in their university throughout their participation. All teams will receive a $250,000 grant regardless of how many members are on the team. We recommend a team with 4-6 students with diverse fields of study or areas of expertise.
Can students from different universities be on the same team?
No. Teams must be comprised of students attending the same university.
Can one university have more than one team?
Yes, universities may have more than one team. Multiple teams cannot have the same faculty advisor.
Can I participate on two separate teams?
No. You can only be a part of one team for the duration of the competition.
Can undergraduate and graduate students work together?
Yes, teams may be comprised of undergraduate and graduate students.
Do I need a faculty advisor?
All teams must nominate a faculty advisor and include the faculty advisor’s consent in the applications.
What is the role of the faculty advisor?
Faculty advisors will advise students on technical directions and be a sounding board for new ideas, similar to a graduate school advisor. They will also act as the official representative from the university for this competition.
Can we add or remove team members during the competition?
During the competition, there will be a period of time during which faculty advisors may request to remove or add members to the team, subject to approval by Amazon. See the Official Rules for details.
Can we discuss our TaskBot with faculty or students who aren’t on our team?
Only team members may work on their TaskBots. However, the faculty advisor and other students and faculty members at your university may provide support and advice to your team and may co-author technical publications and research papers.
How do we apply?
Please fill in the Taskbot Challenge 2 application hosted on YouNoodle.
What do we need to apply?
Once you have selected your team members, team leader, and faculty sponsor, you are ready to begin the application process.
Do all team members have to apply?
Each team must have a team lead, who should submit only one application on behalf of the whole team. Your application must include all of your team members’ information.
Is there an application fee?
There is no application fee.
How will teams be selected to participate?
All applications will be reviewed by Amazon. Teams will be selected by Amazon based on the following criteria: (1) the potential scientific contribution to the field; (2) the technical merit of the approach; (3) the novelty of the idea; and (4) an assessment of the team’s ability to execute against their plan. Please be sure to provide enough detail in your application to enable evaluation of your proposal.
What are the prizes for winning the competition?
A prize of $500,000 will be awarded to team that creates the best TaskBot. The second-place and third-place finalist teams will receive a $100,000 and a $50,000 prize, respectively. See the Official Rules for details.
Do we get a stipend and devices to participate in the Alexa Prize?
Up to ten teams will be sponsored to participate in the competition. Each sponsored team’s university will receive a $250,000 research grant to help fund the team’s participation.
The sponsorship includes Alexa-enabled devices, free AWS services to support the development of the team’s TaskBot, and support from the Alexa team.
How can the grant be spent?
The grants are intended to support two full-time students for the duration of the Competition and one month of the Faculty Advisor’s salary. No more than 35% of the research grant may be allocated to administrative fees. If your team would like to use the funds in another manner, your faculty advisor must receive approval from Amazon before doing so.
What happens if we are selected and receive a stipend but can no longer participate?
Stipends will be awarded in installments payable to the university. If your team withdraws before any of the installments, remaining funds will not be transferred to the university.
How will the prizes be distributed among a team?
The first, second, and third place prizes will be distributed equally among all registered team members.
What are the key milestones of the competition?
Teams must submit their applications by early November, 2022. Teams selected to participate in the competition will be notified by early January, 2023. The competition will run from about January 2023 through September 2023. See the Official Rules for details.