Case Study: ANA Avatar XPRIZE Award

Introduction

The XPRIZE results are an incredible testament to the power of BOW software. We were up against some very strong teams in the semi-final, but the result is a validation of our approach and our technology. This is also a great opportunity to showcase the unique strengths of our system. There are many potential applications for this from healthcare, to exploring hazardous environments, to controlling robots in space.

Daniel Camilleri, CTO and Founder
BOW

Background

XPRIZE is the world’s leading designer and operator of competitions which incentivise solutions to humanity’s grand challenges. BOW entered the 2021 edition – a 4-year global competition focused on avatar development – and was one of 15 finalists. BOW was still in the process of spinning out from the University of Sheffield at the time that we submitted our application. Our initial inspiration came from a chance encounter with an XPRIZE representative at CogX London, who told us about the competition after trying out the very first prototype of BOW’s teleoperation system being demoed there.

Challenge

Run over four years, this prize challenges teams from around the world to develop an avatar system that can deploy a human’s senses, actions, and presence to a remote location in real time. 

These avatars must demonstrate the ability to execute tasks across a variety of real-world scenarios and convey a sense of presence for both the operator and the recipient in those interactions.

Solution

In answer to this challenge, we developed a new app, called Teleport. Teleport enables people to transport themselves into the body of any robot, anywhere in the world. The app lets people see what the robot sees, hear what the robot hears, feel what the robot feels and move around in its body. Teleport can be used to help people visit relatives, explore tourist attractions, deliver more efficient and personalised healthcare, and clean up hazardous environments.

We built the application on the BOW SDK, our universal language for robotics, which allows you to communicate with any robot anywhere in the world, through any platform and any operating system, using any computer language. It’s the BOW SDK that provides the low-latency, robot-agnostic, cloud-based communications driving Teleport. 

Results

Over 900 teams from around the world entered the competition.

In September 2021, semifinalist teams brought their avatar systems to Semifinals Testing in Miami to be evaluated by the judging panel. Each team’s avatar had to demonstrate the ability to execute tasks across a variety of real-world scenarios, while conveying a sense of human presence for both the operator and the recipient in those interactions. The judges extensively reviewed the submissions and selected 15 finalists to advance out of the field of 37 Semifinalist teams. 

After competing against the almost 1000 teams from around the world, BOW made it through to the pool of 15 finalists.  As a reward for reaching this stage, the company was awarded a share of the $2M semi-final prize pot.

Conclusion

The XPRIZE competition rewards the best kind of innovation: that which goes towards solving the greatest challenges facing humanity. BOW’s placement as a finalist – from a pool of over 900 teams – underscores the potential of robotics, and, specifically, of robot-agnostic platforms. BOW will continue to build on this success to find new applications for our technology to help create a better world for humanity.