Alexa Prize Socialbot Grand Challenge: Team Alquist and its social bot compete for gold again this year

For students

Amazon's much-anticipated press release has delighted not only the students who are developing the Alquist conversational bot at the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics, and Cybernetics at CTU as part of the fifth annual Alexa Prize Socialbot Grand Challenge (SGC5) but also all their fans who have been following the competition closely this year. Chatbot Alquist is once again one of the finalists, and in early August we will find out if the team, which has been participating in the competition since its inception, will defend last year's victory. 

Let's briefly recap the progress of the competition, in which the student team is participating for the fifth time. Already at the end of 2022, the team consisting of Ondřej Kobza, Petr Marek, Jan Čuhel, David Herel and Tommaso Gargiani (all students of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of CTU) was selected among nine teams that will try to complete the so-called "Grand Challenge". This means getting a score of 4.0 or higher (out of 5 possible) from the jury and sustaining a 20-minute continuous and engaging socialbot-to-human conversation. No one has yet met this challenge. The team that succeeds will receive a $1 million grant for their university.

Amazon selected 5 university teams for the final round, based on both evaluations of individual anonymized interactions from users of Alexa-enabled devices and technical papers produced by each team.

The selected finalists are:



Faculty advisor


Czech Technical University, Prague

Jan Šedivý


University of California, Santa Cruz

Xin Wang

Chirpy Cardinal

Stanford University

Christopher Manning


University of California, Santa Barbara

Xifeng Yan


Stevens Institute of Technology

Jia Xu

This year, users can invoke any of the competition bots on their Alexa-equipped devices with the formula "Alexa, let's discuss". Unlike in previous years, this also applies to devices with a screen (Amazon Echo or Fire TV), so conversational users are also enriched with visual enjoyment. The feedback provided to the teams by users in the form of a rating of the ongoing conversation with the social bot allows student teams to improve their bots.

Not only the experience from previous years but also the right technical solution ensured our team's advancement to the semi-finals in May and now to the finals, which will take place in the first week of August and will determine the winner.  The team has been participating in the competition since its inception and has always stood on the podium. Apart from last year's first place, it has been silver twice and bronze once. 
"We are thrilled that the Alquist team from CIIRC CTU has advanced to the finals of the prestigious Alexa Prize competition. At this exciting stage of the competition, Alquist is grateful for the support and partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), whose advanced infrastructure enables the deployment of our hybrid conversational technology combining advanced language and scripting models. As we advance to the finals, the team will strive to use this opportunity to further enhance Alquist, push the boundaries of conversational AI, and set new standards for human-like interactions," comments Jan Šedivý, in his role as the team's university advisor, on the team's progress.

"Thanks to GPT chat, everyone is familiar with big language models today. The team from CIIRC CTU has been focusing on conversational artificial intelligence for many years and every year it manages to promote itself among the best teams in the competition of prestigious universities. This field is developing very dynamically and I am pleased that thanks to the Alquist team we are among the most innovative in the field," says Ondřej Velek, Director of CIIRC CTU, and adds: "I am keeping my fingers crossed for this year's finals when the Alquist team is in the difficult position of defending last year's victory."

This year's competition news

This year, Amazon has decided to add some variety to the competition by bringing conversations that have previously only taken the form of verbal conversation to life with multimodal elements - images or text.

In addition, this year it will even give two awards: as in the past, the overall social interaction performance award is in play (with a cash prize of $250,000 for the first-place team, $50,000 for the second-place team and $25,000 for the third-place team), but it will now add a scientific contribution award (again with $250,000 for the first-place team, $50,000 for the second-place team and $25,000 for the third-place team).

Photo: CTU archive

Responsible person Ing. Mgr. Radovan Suk