From Fri Mar  7 06:38:36 1997
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Date: Fri, 7 Mar 1997 06:13:40 -0500 (EST)
From: (Ronald Arkin)
Subject: Preliminary Rules for Hors d'oeuvres anyone event
Precedence: bulk
Status: RO
Attached below are the complete rules for the hors d`oeuvres anyone event.
Anyone who is interested in competing in this event and has questions 
regarding the rules should contact Kurt Konolige (
for clarification.
N.B. These are not the absolute final rules. Competitors will have one
month to bring up issues with the rule committee prior to their
Good luck!
- Ron
                     AAAI-97 Mobile Robot Competition Event 4
                          Draft of March 7, 1997
                         Comments to
                               Hors d'oeuvres event 
This event will occur at the AAAI main reception where there will be
heavy interaction with the attendees. Judging will be conducted by the
attendees and the event organizers. The goal is to provide solid
refreshments to the attendees in close quarters. Safety and
self-protection are paramount. A human escort (only one allowed per
team within the area) will always be nearby for safety and control of
the robot (i.e., if it moves out of the designated area), but is
limited in their interaction with the attendees. The robots must be
fully autonomous. The escort can also replenish the hors d'oeuvres on
an as-needed basis.
1. Preliminimaries
Preliminaries will be conducted prior to the reception to ensure
that the robots are safe: both from harming the attendees as well as
for their own self-protection.  Teams must demonstrate the following:
a) The robots will not charge into people at high rates of speed.
Some bumping may be unavoidable, but large robot platforms moving at
high rates of speed are unacceptable.  Judges will have discretion
here to disquality any dangerous entrants, or to ask teams to modify
their robot's movement parameters.
b) The hors d'oeuvres must be solid food and cannot be "messy".
Exactly what consitutes a messy food is difficult to determine.
Solid, single-bite appetizers like pretzels are encouraged.  Small,
easily-spilled foods like peanuts are discouraged.  Please let the
event organizers know beforehand what type of food you will be using.
c) Robots must be able to carry some supply of food on a stable tray.
The food must stay on the tray under the mild bumps that might be
expected at a cocktail party.
d) Robots must be taskable to keep within a given area.  That is, the
robots should have some method for an escort to turn them away from a
forbidden area.  This should be done *without* turning off the robot's
motors and moving it by hand, i.e., there should be a method for
communicating with the robot to have it move in a desired direction.
e) Robots must move around, they cannot stay still except when
offering food.  It is reasonable to have a (move, offer food, repeat)
strategy, where each phase takes some small amount of time.
Preliminaries will be held the day before the reception, at times to
be arranged with the organizers.
2. Reception activity.
At the reception, a large area will be available to which the robots
are confined.  The area will be some subset of the reception room,
approximately 50 x 50 feet.  It will be marked by lines on the floor
so that escorts can tell their robot when to cut back.
Attendees will be milling about taking hors d'oeuvres from off the
robotic servers.  All robots must be capable of carrying a standard
tray.  Human interaction is the key to success.  The robots must move
about autonomously within the reception area and can interact by
speech, vision, tactile, infrared, or whatever with potential servees.
Personality counts here: your job is to have the robots engage the
attendees as much as possible, convincing them that they are able
Expect a fair number of attendees, so your robot should be able to
deal with crowds.
Robots will be expected to stay in the reception area for an extended  
period of time, in fact, the whole reception, if possible, which will
run some 2-3 hours.  If you need to change batteries, you can do this. 
Scoring will be based on a combination of audience appreciation (60%)
and technical judging (40%).
Audience appreciation: attendees entering the area will receive one
token that they can drop in a box corresponding to their favorite
server at the exit of the reception. This is analogous to tipping
(little batteries are a possibility).  The highest scorer will receive
60 points; the rest will receive points based on what percentage of
the highest score they achieve, e.g., if the lead robot gets 50
tokens, and your robot gets 10 tokens, it will receive 12 points.
Technical merit: maximum of 40 points.
a) Not bumping into people: 10 points.  Robots that are careful to
avoid running into people or over their toes will be awarded 10
points.  Those that continuously annoy the attendees will be awarded
no points.  Judges will characterize in-between behavior.  No points
will be awarded for robots that do not move; in fact, robots *must*
move in this contest.
b) Wandering: 10 points.  Robots should not stay in one place, but try
to wander around.  No requirement to cover the entire area, however.
Robots should also not get stuck in corners.
c) Staying in area: 5 points.  Robots should be taskable to stay
within the given area (see above).  This explicitly means that escorts
should *not* have to turn off the motors and drag them back.
d) Seeking out people: 5 points.  Robots that can seek out people will
be awarded extra ponits.  Distinguishing people from walls and poles
is helpful but not absolutely necessary: partial points will be given
for any reasonable behavior.
e) Refills: 5 points.  Robots that can tell when they need food
refills will earn an extra 5 points.
f) Manipulation: 5 points.  Robots that can actively offer attendees
their wares will be awarded an extra 5 points.

We are really looking for robots with maximum "cute" appeal, so the
scoring is biased towards audience participation.  The technical
points are there so that robots stay within reasonable guidelines.