Our lab has just won first place in the 2017 Humanoid Application Challenge at this year's IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Systems (IROS), IEEE's flagship robotics conference. The Humanoid Application Challenge is intended to be more open-ended than most other robotics competitions, in that entries are judged on dimensions of effectiveness and innovation in a given theme rather than stating a precisely defined goal such as winning a soccer competition. This perspective encourages creative entries that cross boundaries and bring together work from many areas of artificial intelligence that are important to intelligent humanoid robots, including vision, speech understanding, coordination, reasoning, machine learning, and human-robot interaction.

This year's theme was once again Robot Magic, and our entry used strong combinations of vision, machine learning, speech understanding, gesture recognition, and human-robot interaction to perform a magic act that involved several tricks and interaction with the audience. We had two undergraduate students that went to IROS in Vancouver to demonstrate this work: Kyle Morris, an undergraduate student in Computer Science (who also did our second prize-winning Robot Magic entry last year), and Vlad Samonin, a Computer Engineering undergraduate who has been volunteering in our lab. They did a tremendous amount of work, which was supervised by Drs. Meng Cheng Lau (our Post-Doctoral Fellow) and John Anderson.

As the first place winner, the work is being demonstrated today live at the main IROS conference, and video and media of this should be available soon. Video of all the entries being judged in the competition is available here. We were also honoured to be asked to demonstrate this work at the University of Manitoba's Homecoming this year.

This is the fifth Humanoid Application Challenge and we are proud to have won first or second/finalist prize in this competition every year it has been run. Some of our previous first-prize work was the skating and skiing work you can read about in previous stories on the lab website. While we are exceptionally proud of all of our competition wins, the Humanoid Application Challenge is unique in that its awards are robotics equipment, which directly supports further research work in the lab. The first prize awarded this year is a DARwIn OP3 Humanoid Robot (valued at around $13,000), which will join our collection of DARwIns that we use for the small-size humanoid work in the lab. This is an incredibly useful addition, and we thank Robotis for sponsoring the prize, and IROS for travel funding.

Congratulations to everyone involved and we are looking forward to having you back, Kyle and Vlad!

We will be be attending RoboCup 2018 in Montreal, the first time RoboCup has come to Canada!

The Autonomous Agents Laboratory is one of the research laboratories within the Department of Computer Science at the University of Manitoba, and is directed by Dr. John Anderson and Dr. Jacky Baltes. The goal of our work is the improvement of technology surrounding hardware and software agents as well as the development of applications employing these technologies. We are especially interested in cooperation in multi-agent settings, and the infrastructure necessary to support this and other forms of social interaction in intelligent systems.