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A student team working at the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics (CIIRC) under the leadership of Jan Šedivý has advanced to the finals of the Alexa Prize Social Bot Grand Challenge, announced for the fourth time by Amazon. It will become clear during August whether the team will finally manage to win gold and beat the international competition. Team Alquist was awarded silver twice in previous editions and bronze in 2020.

Chatbots are finding ever wider use in e-commerce, the hotel industry and social services. Amazon's Alexa Prize Social Bot Grand Challenge is aimed at making them almost as easy to talk to as a human. The goal is to create a conversational robot for the Alexa voice assistant that can have interesting conversations with people about general topics like movies, sports, or music. The grand prize of one million dollars (which has not yet been awarded) will go to a chatbot capable of having coherent and entertaining conversations with an average length of at least 20 minutes.

The team of students from CTU, which develops a conversational bot called Alquist at the CIIRC CTU under the guidance of Jan Šedivý, has participated in the competition for the fourth time and each time won a prestigious medal position. However, he is still waiting for the gold. The team has been gradually changing over the years, and in 2021 the following students are competing: Jakub Konrád (vedoucí), Petr Marek, Petr Lorenc, Van Duy Ta a Ondřej Kobza.

"For this year's Alexa Grand Challenge, we have set ourselves a number of ambitious goals," says Jakub Konrád, head of the student team. "It's fantastic to see that it has paid off and that we have once again reached the final of the competition. We are looking forward to the final round of judging and seeing if we can do even better this year."

Other finalist teams include Athena, The University of California, Santa Cruz; Emory, Emory University; Chirpy Cardinal, Stanford University; State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo.

The three most successful teams will be announced during August. Last year's podium occupants were Emora, Chirpy and Alquist, in that order.

More information can be found here