From Thu Oct 17 14:07:19 1996
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 1996 13:20:05 -0400 (EDT)
From: (Ronald Arkin)
Message-Id: <>
Subject: Draft AAAI-97 Competition Events
Precedence: bulk
Status: RO

For your perusal, the Co-chairs of the AAAI-97 Mobile Robot Competition
are providing *Draft* versions of several events under consideration
for the upcoming conference. They are:
          1. The contemporary, Find life on Mars event

          2. The equally important, Find the remote control event

          3. Home vacuum (topic of a previous AAAI symposium).

There is also a fourth event that will be held at the reception and
judged by the attendees:

          4. Hors d'oeuvres anyone? (thanks to Dave Miller)

Sketchy descriptions of each follow. Do not get hung up on the
rules now, these will be formulated in detail later within rules
committees. It is likely that only two of the top three will be held, 
so we'd like your feedback as soon as possible.  We also intend to have
separate rules committees for each of these events (if we get enough 

What we'd like from you at this point is the following:

A. A brief *one sentence* description of what you think of each event. We do
   not want extended reviews.

B. Whether or not you think you would be willing to compete in each event.

C. Whether or not you would like to serve on the rules committee of an 
   event in which you do not plan on competing.

That's it for now.

- Ron


                     AAAI-97 Mobile Robot Competition Event 1

This is a *DRAFT*  The actual event will look similar to this, but may
have some differences.  If you have any comments on this please
contact us.  We are very open to suggestions on how to improve the
event or the scoring and how to accommodate the greatest number of robots.

Event 1: Find life on Mars

This mission is inspired by the upcoming Pathfinder Mission to
Mars as well as the tantalizing (albeit limited) possibility
of life on Mars as depicted by the recent meteorite analysis.
There has also been recent emphasis by the U.S. Administration on
robotic missions to Mars, so why not start at AAAI?

The robot will be placed in a large physically bounded area.  
In the area with the robot will be a variety of objects: unmodeled 
rock-like obstacles (both large and small), unusual small objects (unusual 
by virtue of color or  shape) and moving martians (squiggle balls). 
A significant number of the rocks will be small and movable, thus a blind
sweeping of everything in the area would gather significantly more garbage than
actual life-forms, so a random strategy of picking up everything
will not work.

The robot  will start at a given location within the area near the center 
where the lander is located.  The lander itself will be a pen capable of 
containing the retrieved martian samples.  As power is at a premium, and time
is of the essence (who knows what those Martians are up to), the robot's
goal is to explore the unmapped area surrounding the lander
in the most efficient manner possible, retrieving as many of the martian life 
forms to the lander as possible in the time allotted.  The items retrieved
 will also need to be sorted into 3 possible classes: moving, stationary-1,
 and stationary-2.
It may be that some life-forms are located underneath rock-like objects.
There will be clues to their presence, such as obvious trails or
deposits ("martian droppings") which can be used to determine
which small rocks are worth knocking over (a simple but firm bump would be 
adequate to expose them).

There will be a maximum limit to the physical size of the robot or robots used
based upon the launch requirements. Multiagent entries are acceptable
but the total volume of robotic hardware on Mars cannot exceed
* cubic feet.

Specifics: TBD

There will be two classes of winners: Those robots that retrieve the
most objects, and those that most accurately map where the
objects are located (not the whole world, just the objects of interest).
The map will be of use for future missions, or high-powered orbiting
telescopes to focus upon (it is expensive to return objects from Mars 
after all). An entry can compete in one or both categories if desired.

Scoring: Details TBD

Penalties will be assessed for misclassifying objects (as this would
gum up the processing machinery), or dropping a life form.

Returning non-life form material to the lander also results in a penalty.

Questions or comments to: TBD

NOTE: Squiggle balls can be purchased from The Scientific Revolution
at 415-322-1876 or at your local scientific or toy stores.


AAAI Mobile Robot Competition Event 2: Where's the remote?

This event is inspired by the need for robot assistants to perform
'fetch-it' tasks in partially known environments.  Imagine a robot
assistant helping a handicapped person around the home.  The person might
ask the robot to fetch an orange, the TV remote, a cup of coffee, and
so on.  While the robot may not know where all of these items
are initially, over time it will learn roughly where they are kept.

The event will take place in an arena that contains tables, chairs, and
shelves at varying heights.  Scattered throughout the area, on the
floor, the shelves, and the tables, will be 12 different objects.  The
robot will start the event near a human sitting in a chair (ie. judge)
who will ask the robot to fetch three items.  Once these items have been
returned, the human will ask for three more items.  The winner will be
the robot that can find and return the most items in the allotted time.

The environment:

- Furniture will be in clusters so the arena will be mostly free
  space.  Furniture may obscure items from some points of view.

- Teams will not know the location of any of the items before the
  competition begins.

The objects:

- Objects will be small, real objects like soda cans, cups, screwdrivers,
  boxes, tennis balls, teddy bears, etc.  These objects will be selected so
  that they have relatively distinctive colors or shapes.  (The set will
  not include both a Coke can and a Pepsi can but it might include both a
  Coke can and a red screwdriver).

- Pictures of all twelve objects will be available well before the
  competition.  Detailed color images from many different angles will be
  supplied for six objects.  All twelve objects will be available to the
  teams to inspect, present to their robot, or whatever, when they arrive
  at the competition.

Multiple runs:

- During each run of the event, the same objects will be placed in roughly
  the same place (ie. on the same desk, shelf, or area on the floor).
  Thus, a robot can accumulate information about the approximate location
  of objects from run to run.

- During each run, objects will be requested in a different order.


- Each event will be scored by the number of objects successfully returned
  to the judge.

- At any time a robot may give up on an assigned item by taking a time
  penalty of 1/12th the total time. (Ie. If the robot is given 18 minutes
  total, it must give up 1.5 minutes each time it rejects an item).

- If a robot does not reject any items, it will be given a bonus score of
  one point for every object it finds.


AAAI-97 Mobile Robot Competition Event 3: Home Vacuum

This is a *DRAFT*  The actual event will look similar to this, but may
have some differences.  If you have any comments on this please
contact us.  We are very open to suggestions on how to improve the
event or the scoring and how to accommodate the greatest number of robots.

Event 3: Home Vacuum (inspired by an earlier AAAI Symposium and Pete Bonasso's 
         paper "What Good is your Vacuuming Robot's Intelligence?")

This task involves the creation of a robot (or robots) that are capable of
effectively cleaning a one-bedroom (or studio) apartment - complete with 
natural furniture.  The robotic system is assumed to start within a closet in 
the bedroom.  "Dirt" confetti  will be uniformly scattered throughout the two 
rooms. There will be some regions of high concentration of dirt as well.  The 
robot's task is to come out during the day, while the owner is at work, and 
clean-up the apartment. This should involve vacuuming under furniture (it may 
be moved as long as it's replaced) and in corners. Additional points will be 
provided for vacuuming the sofa. A map will be available of the apartment, 
including the layout of the furniture.

The robot must return back to its home closet upon completion and
discharge its dust into a suitable receptacle (competitor defined).

Specifics: TBD

Scoring: Judging will be based on time to complete the task and
the overall cleanliness of the room upon completion.

Questions or comments to: TBD


AAAI-97 Mobile Robot Competition Event 4: Hors d'oeuvres anyone?

This is a *DRAFT*  The actual event will look similar to this, but may
have some differences.  If you have any comments on this please
contact us.  We are very open to suggestions on how to improve the
event or the scoring and how to accommodate the greatest number of robots.

Event 3: Reception hors d'oeuvres server (concept thanks to Dave Miller)

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. 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 (just how is yet to be determined). The robots must be fully 
autonomous. The escort will also replenish the hors d'oeuvres on an as needed 


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.

At the reception, a large area will be available to which the robots are
confined (the size of the area will be available ahead of time).
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. If needed the number of attendees in the
area will be regulated to prevent overcrowding.

Additionally, there may also be a more formal judging by official judges who 
review the robots at their task in a more rigorous setting 
(not popularity). Safety, human interaction, and efficiency count here.


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 winners will be
selected by the largest number of tips. 

Rules for other performance judging will be developed later.