Ask Jeeves: Edinburgh students compete to design a futuristic robot butler
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Postgraduates from the National Robotarium, supported by Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh universities, will create the "embodied agent" as part of the Amazon’s Alexa Prize SimBot Challenge.The artificial intelligence contest organisers want teams to create a robot that can understand language, interact with humans, follow orders and accomplish tasks.
The eight-strong Scottish team is the only non-US group to pass the initial selection process, demonstrating its world-leading expertise in embodied conversational AI research and teaching.
It will will receive a grant of $250,000 to support its development costs, while the winning team will take home $500,000.
Stewart Miller, CEO of the National Robotarium said: "To be the only team from any country in the world outside the USA to be selected for the Alexa Prize SimBot Challenge demonstrates the global significance and capabilities of the teams within the National Robotarium.
"Backed by the combined robotic and AI experience of Heriot-Watt and the University of Edinburgh, we’re demonstrating our ability to lead global development in AI, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in a domestic setting."
The National Robotarium is funded as part of the £1.3bn Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal - including £21 million from the UK Government, and £1.4 million from the Scottish government.
Its £22.4 million high-tech building, due to open this year, is part of a drive to establish the region as the data capital of Europe.
Professor Verena Rieser, Professor of Conversational AI at the National Robotarium, who is advising the student team, added: "The objective of Amazon’s latest Alexa Prize challenge perfectly aligns with the aims of the National Robotarium which is to use robotics and artificial intelligence research to help people, solve global challenges and work in partnership with industry.
"With AI technology and machine learning offering exciting opportunities to complement our daily lives, exploring how these innovations can be further embedded in our homes is a fantastic learning opportunity for our students.
"This competition has been carefully designed to advance the science behind embodied AI and demonstrates that our team is among the best in the world."