Amazon Developing Game To Study Human-Robot Interaction

Tech giant Amazon is developing a computer game called Alexa Arena which involves users interacting with virtual robots to train machines on how to behave around humans. The game involves getting virtual robots to do tasks for you and will gather data on robot-human interactions.

With this computer game, Amazon can train the machines on how best to go about their duties in offices and homes.

Qiaozi Gao, Applied Scientist of the Amazon Alexa AI team, describes Alexa Arena as an initiative supporting the development of gamified robotic tasks readily accessible to general human users.

According to a recent paper prepared by Gao and his team, the game will become publicly available in order to conduct a widespread study related to the creation of such embodied assistants like robots.

The game, yet to be launched, will feature “user-friendly” graphics and control mechanisms. Gao and his team claim that the game will open a new venue for high-efficiency HRI data collection and Embodied AI system evaluation. Embodied AI relates to AI systems which control a physical object, such as a robotic arm or autonomous vehicle.

Last month, Amazon had organised Alexa Prize SimBot Challenge BootCamp in the US, wherein 10 university teams were selected to participate in the live interactions phase of the Alexa Prize SimBot Challenge. These university teams competed to develop a bot that best responds to customer commands in a virtual world.

At last year’s International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Gao and his team presented two papers that advance Embodied artificial intelligence (EAI).

In the first paper published, “DialFRED: Dialogue-enabled agents for embodied instruction following”, the team presented DialFRED, an embodied-instruction-following benchmark containing 53,000 human-annotated dialogues that enables an agent to — (1) to engage in an active dialogue with the user and (2) use the resulting information to better complete tasks. 

Last year in August, Amazon unveiled its “first fully autonomous mobile robot” called Proteus, in its industrial robots category. 

Notably, besides having industrial robots for its vast warehouses, Amazon also develops consumer robots such as the Astro home robot, which was launched in late 2021. 

Astro home robot

Astro Home robots are Household robot for home monitoring, with Alexa. With Astro robot, users can monitor home, while away from home, using its Astro app that allows to see a live view of users' home, check in on specific areas, and get activity alerts. When you're home, Astro can follow you from room to room playing your favorite music, podcasts or shows, and find you to deliver calls, reminders, alarms, and timers set with Alexa.

Coming back to the computer game, Alexa Arena will be made publicly available to facilitate research in building generalisable and assistive embodied agents such as virtual assistants and robots.

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