The 2001 Hors D'oeuvres Contest


Hors D'oeuvres

Registered Participants & Schedule


Written summaries

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Robots are required to wear a server's badge. The details on color, size, and height regulations will be specified later. You can assume that it will be distinctively colored. The purpose is to allow contestants to recognize other contestants and to interact with other contestants.

Robots are allowed to touch attendees. Specifically, in their attempt to serve food, a robot may "nudge" a person in order to get through a crowd and serve food to other groups of people. Preference is given to robots that can accomplish this without touching, but it is better to nudge people than to stay stranded in a single spot all evening. Note that hurting people by making hard or continued contact, or rolling over toes will be heavily penalized (and the robots may be banned from further competition). Consider this to be along the lines of Asimov's Rules of Robotics

In addition to emphasizing interaction with attendees, we encourage manipulation, either by refilling serving trays autonomously, or in physically handing out the food to the attendees.

Competition Rounds

The overall competition will be divided into two events. All contestants must first compete in the qualification/safety event and if deemed safe can then compete in the reception event.

Qualification/Safety Event

The first round, which is mandatory, will be a qualification/safety round. During this round, the robot, one team member, the judges, and a small group of specially selected "party attendees," will be in the vicinity of the robot. In this round, each robot will be evaluated in four areas:

Reception Event

The environment will not be engineered for the event. Do not assume the floor is flat. You can assume that cabling might lay on the floor, or that the robot might need to pass over bare floor to carpeted areas. Furniture and other structures will be natural and may not be marked or altered for the sake of the robots. The crowd will not be limited. We believe that better robots will avoid getting too close to the main food table since the people near that table do not need to be served from a tray, and since getting near the food table will almost guarantee that you will be in a hopelessly crowded situation! Remember that human servers tend to serve the fringe areas.

The food to be served will be provided by AAAI/conference services. An exception will be made for teams who wish to focus on manipulation. In this case, teams may supply their own food, but should keep the rules committee informed of their plans. Only one handler from each team will be allowed with the robot, and will stay relatively close to the robot, but will not be allowed to control the robot, except in specially allowed circumstances that are described below. Handlers should NOT interact with the attendees. We recommend that all robots have a clearly visible emergency stop button for safety reasons.

Robots will have a serving tray (please provide your own tray). At a minimum, the handlers will refill these trays when they are empty by signaling to an additional team member who will be allowed to bring additional food to the handler. If possible, additional points will be given if the robot can detect when its serving tray needs to be refilled, and indicates this to the handler. Even more points will be given if the robot, in addition to detecting the need for more food, navigates to the teams "refill" location. For those teams in the pen, the refill area will be along the side of the ring. The refill area will be somewhere in the exhibit hall away from the main table, but not too far away. Each team will be assigned this area, approximately 2 meters in diameter, at least several hours prior to the contest. This refill area may be marked by the team with a sign or special mark. We would favor robots that found its refill station via visual recognition of a marker than via dead reckoning. Markers that are more *natural* are better then markers that are completely artificial.


The robots will be evaluated by a panel of judges. A subjective score between 1 and 10 will be determined by each judge. These scores will be averaged to produce a final score. The contestants will be evaluated on overall success as well as on any particular abilities they incorporate into their solutions. These abilities include the following which are roughly ordered from minimum requirements to special credit:

Place awards for technical merit will be based on the judges' scores from the Qualification/Safety Round and from the performance in the reception event.

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