From Mon Feb  3 15:16:13 1997
Date: Mon, 3 Feb 1997 08:59:15 -0600
Message-Id: <>
From: Pete Bonasso <>
Subject: First Draft of Rules for the Vacuuming Competition
Precedence: bulk
Status: RO
Here's a first set of rules for the vacuuming contest. The rules
committee (Erann Gat, Sebastian Thrun, and myself, Pete Bonasso) had a
number of discussions that included how to keep from having loop holes
that would admit to easy solutions, how to insure that some
intelligence was necessary, and how to assign penalties for teams who
might use minimal sensing. What we've come up with is a first pass
suitable for interested teams to send in their reactions. Let us know
what you think.
Please send comments/questions to me ( with
copies to Erann gat@robotics.Jpl.Nasa.Gov, and Sebastian We'll pow wow among ourselves and
get back to you with rule changes or clarifications. The final set of
rules is due in March.
Also, if you're with a team that is planning to participate, let us
know the affiliation so we can start getting a count.
The point of this contest is to explore the usefulness of intelligence
in a task that appears to only require essentially unskilled labor --
simple household vacuuming. We believe that unlike vacuuming in the
service industry (factories, warehouses, etc.) home vacuuming will
require sensate intelligence to deal with the humans in an everyday
environment.  For the AAAI contest, vacuuming robots ought to be short
on vacuum mechanisms and long on intelligence. That is to say, simple
suction, storage, and disposal devices are sufficient for these tasks,
but the robots will probably have to make reasoned trade-offs among
subtasks in real time to achieve a high score.
As always, these draft rules may be adjusted based on the feedback
from potential participants.
1) To show the value of intelligent robotics in a rudimentary service
task .
2) To let competitors measure the usefulness of their approach to
robot intelligence.
3) To have fun.
We have a three room house (kitchen, family room, den) with a short
hallway connecting the rooms. A smart vacuuming robot sits at a
charging/disposal station in the hallway where it can see humans going
in and out of the rooms (in the contest, charging a waning battery
should not be required, but depositing trash will). Periodically,
because of the activities of the human family living there, messes
appear in the rooms, and sometimes in the hallway. The robot's task is
to keep the floors vacuumed with minimum interruption of the
activities of the human family living there. As such it is to vacuum
on demand, when it knows a room might possibly be messy and on a
periodic basis.
The rooms will be setup using materials similar to last year's
competition. (The figure below is a sample layout; the actual layout
will be determined shortly before the competition and maps will be
released to all competitors upon their arrival). The door openings to
the rooms may be opened or "closed" (blocked). Each room will have a
set of furniture: desks, tables, and/or chairs of the kind used last
year. Robots are not expected to vacuum under furniture.
    |             |
    |             |
    |    K        |
    |             |
    |             |
    |             |
    |             |
    ----   -------------------
   ---------  -----------  ----
  |               |           |
  |               |           |
  |      L        |    D      |
  |               |           |
  |               |           |
  |               |           |
Periodically humans will come and go in the rooms. As they do, they
may or may not leave "messes". The "messes" will consist of piles of
paper confetti.  Sometimes a teenage human may leave a mess in the
hallway. A mess will be a circular pile of white confetti no smaller
than 18 inches in diameter. There may be more than one mess in a room.
The vacuuming robots will be restricted to carry no more than two
messes worth of trash before they must "deposit" the trash at the
deposit site. Simply releasing the confetti at the deposit coordinates
is sufficient to constitute a deposit.
Allowable Environmental Engineering:
o Bar-codes may be used to mark the room doors at a 5 pt penalty for
each phase described below
o Marking humans incurs a 2 - 10 pt penalty per human.
o Marking messes incurs a 5 - 10 pt penalty per mess.
(Judges will determine the amount of penalty, depending on how much
marking is done)
Virtual Manipulation:
Robots that can't vacuum must drive over the messes and must delay at
each mess for 30 seconds.
Robots that cannot deposit trash must move over the designated deposit
site and delay for 15 seconds for each deposit.
The Tasks:
Phase 1. "Once A Week" Vacuuming.
(First day trials). All the rooms are to be cleaned once a week. In
this phase, the robots will start at the disposal station, clean the
each room by vacuuming the entire area of the room, and return to the
disposal point. If messes are present (there may be from zero to two
messes in each room), the robot must return to deposit the trash after
every two messes. No humans will be present for this phase. There will
be no messes in the hallway for this phase.
1) Fastest time (all three rooms must have been entered (doorway
cleared) at least once to qualify for fastest time):
   o 1st place -- 20 pts.
   o 2nd place -- 10 pts
   o 3rd place --  5 pts.
   Max. score -- 20.
2) Clean rooms:
   o ((per cent of room covered) x 10 )/room
   o ((per cent of mess cleaned up) x 10 )/mess
   o 10 pts/(return for deposit) 
   Max. score (three rooms and 2 messes/room):
     3 x 10 = 30
    +6 x 10 = 60
    +3 x 10 = 30
3) Penalties: Navigation -- 5 pt penalty for each physical item bumped or hit.
4) Bonuses: 
   o Innovative vacuum device --  10 pts
   o Innovative deposit device -- 10 pts
Max. score possible for Phase 1: 160 pts
Phase 2: "Tidy Up." 
(Second Day Trials). The robot starts at the disposal station. Humans
will periodically enter and leave the rooms (possibly leaving
messes). It's the robot's job is to keep the rooms clean of
messes. Robots must not enter a room when a human is present (during
this phase, humans will not enter a room while a robot is
cleaning). During a given 15 minute run, humans will be present in
each room for 1 minute out of every 5, except for the family room
which will be occupied 3 minutes out of every 5.
Robots may clean messes in the hallway while humans are present there.
The house is laid out such that the family room is immediately visible
to visitors from the front entrance. Thus, to the family, a clean
family room is twice as important any other room being clean.
1) Messes cleaned in 15 minutes (i.e., a mess is cleaned when at least
80 per cent of the mess has been vacuumed):
   o Kitchen, hallway and den: 25 x number of messes
   o Family room: 50 x number of messes
   Max. score: 
   (Max. of 2 messes per room/hallway)
     6 x 25 =  125
    +2 x 50 =  100
2) Penalties:
   o Navigation - 5 pt penalty for each physical item bumped or hit.
   o Avoiding humans - 10 pt penalty for each human touched
Phase 3: "Clean my room". 
(Third Day Trials). The robot starts at the disposal station. A human
will come into the hallway and indicate to the robot that a room needs
to be cleaned. The robot will then move to the room, clean any messes
there and return to base to deposit the trash. While the robot is
cleaning the room, one or more humans will enter. The robot must not
clean while a human is in the room, but must move to the nearest wall
and wait until the human leaves.
1) Detecting and interpreting human indication of messy room. 
   Max. score -- 25.
2) Clean rooms:
   o ((per cent of mess cleaned up) x 10 )/mess
   o 10 pts/(return for deposit)
   Max. score 
	3 messes x 10 =   30
	2 deposits x 10 = 20
3) Ability to stop vacuuming and retreat when human is present in the
room - 25 pts.
4) Innovative human-robot communication -- 50 pts. We will reward
natural communication that does not involve physically touching the
robot or keyboard or mouse. E.g., gesturing, or acquiring and
Max. score possible for Phase 3: 150.
5) Penalties:
   o Navigation - 5 pt penalty for each physical item bumped or hit.
   o Avoiding humans - 10 pt penalty for each human touched
Maximum possible contest score =  535 pts.