Flatland Challenge

Challenge Rules




1. Challenge Description

The Flatland Challenge is a competition to facilitate the progress of multi-agent reinforcement learning for any vehicle re-scheduling problem (VRSP). The challenge addresses a real-world problem faced by many transportation and logistics companies around the world (such as the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB)). Using reinforcement learning (or operations research methods), you must solve different tasks related to VRSP on a simplified 2D multi-agent railway simulations environment. Your contribution might influence and shape the way modern traffic management systems (TMS) are implemented not only in railway but also in other areas of transportation and logistics. This will be the first of a series of challenges related to Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning.

This Challenge will be run in accordance to these Official Rules (“Rules”).

2. Sponsor

The Challenge is organized and sponsored Schweizerischen Bundesbahnen SBB, spezialgesetzliche Aktiengesellschaft Bern, CH-3000 Bern 65 (“Sponsor” or “SBB”).

3. SBB Admins

“SBB Admins” are any companies or organizations authorized by SBB to aid it with the administration or execution of this Challenge including but not limited to AIcrowd SA.

4. Challenge Start and End Dates

There will be 3 rounds of submissions in total, but the first one serves as an introduction to get familiar with Flatland. The final leaderboard and the winning of prizes will be based on the score in round 2.

Round 0: Learn to navigate (Test Round): A single agent must navigate from a freely chosen start destination to a freely chosen target destination on a random infrastructure. It is, in other words, a relatively simple shortest path problem.

There will be no ranking, nor any prizes to be gained in this round- but the collected insights make it all worth it!

Deadline: See Flatland Challenge Page

Round 1: Avoid conflicts: We pick-up the same problem from the previous round but turn it into a multi-agent problem. That means that multiple agents, all have to find their ways to their respective target destinations. In that scenario, you are likely to encounter resource- conflicts, these arise when two or more agents want to simultaneously use the same path section. Thus, the agents have to learn to avoid conflicts caused by two-way traffic and find feasible solutions. Good luck!

Deadline: See Flatland Challenge Page

Round 2: Optimize train traffic: To the current multi-agent-problem we add divergent speeds! In reality, not all trains can go at the same speed. That way, we introduce additional complexity, as you not only resolve conflicts but also make optimizations. The optimizations are necessary because without intervention the slower agents would slow down the faster ones. The prize is reserved for the winner who submits the optimal solution, where the wait time of each agent is minimized. By submitting your solution timely and adhering to the participation rules (“Rules”) you are automatically eligible for the Contribution Prize & Best Agent Prize. Good luck!

Deadline: See Flatland Challenge Page

5. Am I Eligible to Enter the Challenge?

You are eligible to enter this Challenge if you (and each member of your Team) meet all of the following requirements as of the time and date of entry:

  • You are an individual;
  • You are 18 years of age or older but in no event less than the age of majority in your place of residence;
  • You have Internet Access, an Email Account, and access to a personal computer;

The organizers will not be able to transfer prize money to accounts of any of the following countries or regions. (Please note that residents of these countries or regions are still allowed to participate in the challenge.)

  • The Crimea region of Ukraine
  • Cuba
  • Iran
  • North Korea
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Quebec, Canada
  • Brazil
  • Italy

Please Note: it is entirely your responsibility to review and understand your employer’s and countries policies about your eligibility to participate in this Challenge. If you participate in violation of your employer’s or countries policies, you and your Entry may be disqualified from the Challenge. SBB disclaims any and all liability or responsibility with respect to disputes arising between an employer and such employer’s employee or between a country and its resident in relation to this matter.

6. Is the Entry an Eligible Entry?

To be eligible to be considered for a prize, as solely determined by SBB:

The Entry MUST:

  • be compatible with the build.sh script;
  • be in English;
  • be the Team’s own original work;
  • not have been submitted previously in any promotion of any kind;
  • not contain material or content that: o is inappropriate, indecent, obscene, offensive, sexually explicit, pornographic, hateful, tortious, defamatory, or slanderous or libelous; o promotes bigotry, racism, hatred or harm against any group or individual o promotes discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age; o promotes alcohol, illegal drugs, or tobacco; o violates or infringes another’s rights, including but not limited to rights of privacy, publicity, or their intellectual property rights; o is inconsistent with the message, brand, or image of SBB, is unlawful; or o is in violation of or contrary to the laws or regulations of any jurisdiction in which the Entry is created; and

The Team Lead MUST:

  • ensure the Team has obtained any and all consents, approvals, or licenses required for submission of the Entry;
  • obtain any consents necessary from all members of the Team with respect to the sharing of such member’s personal information as outlined herein;
  • obtain the agreement of all members of the Team to these Rules;
  • not generate the Entry by any means which violate these Rules, the SBB Terms of Service or the SBB Privacy Policy;
  • not engage in false, fraudulent, or deceptive acts at any phase during participation in the Challenge; and
  • not tamper or abuse any aspect of this Challenge.

7. Disqualification.

If you, any Team member, or the Entry is found to be ineligible for any reason, including but not limited to conflicts within Teams and noncompliance with Sections 5 and 6 of these Rules, SBB and SBB Affiliates reserve the right to disqualify the Entry and/or you and/or your Team members from this Challenge and any other contest or promotional activity sponsored or administered in any way by SBB or SBB Affiliates.

8. How may the Entry potentially be used?

The Entry may be used in a few different ways. SBB does not claim to own your Team’s Entry, however, by submitting the Entry you and each member of your Team:

  • hereby grants to SBB and SBB Affiliates a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free, world-wide right and license to (i) review and analyze the Entry in relation to this Challenge; and (ii) use the Entry or parts of your Entry in any media for any non-commercial or commercial purpose in connection with the marketing, sale, or promotion of SBB, SBB Affiliates and their respective products and services;
  • agrees that each member will execute any necessary paperwork for SBB and SBB Affiliates to use the rights and licenses granted hereunder;
  • acknowledges and agrees that the Team will not be compensated and may not be credited (at SBB’s sole discretion) for the use of the Entry as described in these Rules;
  • acknowledges that the SBB or SBB Affiliates may have developed or commissioned materials similar to the Entry and waive any claims resulting from any similarities to the Entry;
  • understand that the Entry may be posted on a public website or social media channel and that SBB is not responsible for any unauthorized use of the Entry by visitors to such site; and
  • understand and acknowledge that, subject to provision of Prizes, SBB is not obligated to use the Entry in any way, even if the Entry is selected as a winning Entry.

Personal data you submit in relation to this Challenge will be used by SBB and SBB Admins in accordance to Section 15 of these Rules.

9. How will Winners be Selected and Notified?

Entries will be judged via an algorithm that will generate a score based upon which Entries will be ranked and such ranking will be displayed on the AIcrowd Site’s Challenge specific leaderboard (“Leaderboard”).

In each round the algorithm will rank your Entry as follows:

The Agent submitted in the Entry will be evaluated against the applicable Flatland Environment generated using N random seeds unavailable to participants during the Challenge (“Seeds”). To be clear, the same N Seeds will be used to evaluate all Entries submitted in each Round, with the understanding the N Seeds in Round 1 may not be the N Seeds applied in Round 2. The Entry will be ranked on the Leaderboard based on the highest average score reached by the Agent across all Seeds (“Average Score”).

The Entries of Round 1 and Round 2 will be scored. There will be a seperate leaderboard for each round.

Tied Entries

If two or more participating Teams have the same score, a secondary algorithmic metric will be added to the scores. If all scores are identical and prizes are awarded to the teams they will be shared evenly among the Teams.

Potential winners will be contacted within 72 hours of each Deadline via the email associated with AIcrowd.com account through which the Entry was submitted. If a potential winner cannot be contacted, does not respond as directed, refuses the prize, or is found to be ineligible for any reason, such prize may be forfeited and awarded to an alternate winner. Only one alternate winner will be selected per each prize package, after which prizes will remain unawarded.

To the extent that there is any dispute as to the identity of the potential winner, the official account holder of the email address associated with the AIcrowd account through which the Entry was first submitted will be deemed the official potential winner by SBB.

10. Your Odds of Winning


11. Prizes

Your problem solutions mean something to us - hence great prizes with a total value of 30k CHF are reserved for those with the best submissions. You can excel in two categories; the community prize category and the best solution category. The community prize will be awarded to the participant/team which

Community Contributions Prize: Awarded to the person/group who makes the biggest contribution to the community - done through generating new observations, predictor or other enhancements and sharing them with the community. All rounds are considered for this prize.

The top submission in this category will be awarded the following cash prize (in Swiss Francs): CHF 5’000.-

Best Solution Prize: Won by the participants with the best performing submission on our test set. Only the ranking from round 2 will be considered for the prizes.

The top three submissions in this category will be awarded the following cash prizes (in Swiss Francs):

  • CHF 7’500.- for first prize
  • CHF 5’000.- for second prize
  • CHF 2’500.- for third prize

In addition, we will hand-pick and award up to five (5) travel grants to the Applied Machine Learning Days 2019 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Participants with promising solutions may be invited to present their solutions at SBB in Bern, Switzerland.

Further prizes may be added by Sponsors during the challenge.

All prizes are non-transferable, and no substitutions of the prizes for cash, alternate goods or services, or any other prize is permitted. Notwithstanding the foregoing sentence, SBB reserves the right to provide a substitute prize of approximately equal value for any reason. PRIZES ARE AWARDED “AS-IS” WITH NO WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OR MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, OR NON-INFRINGEMENT.

All federal, state, and local or any other applicable taxes, license, title, and/or registration fees or other costs, associated with the prize are the sole responsibility of the winner. SBB, SBB Admins, and each of their respective directors, officers, employees, agents and assigns, will not be responsible for any such taxes, fees, and costs.

Any prize details not specified in these Rules will be determined solely by SBB.

12. When will prizes be awarded?

The prizes will be awarded within a commercially reasonable time frame. All members of a Team may be required to complete and sign additional documentation, such as a non-disclosures, representations and warranties, liability and publicity releases (unless prohibited by applicable law), and tax documents, or other similar documentation in order for the potentially winning team to claim the prize. For Teams in excess of one member, the prize will be awarded to the Team Lead. SBB will in no way be involved in any dispute with respect to receipt of a prize by any other members of a Team.

Only prizes claimed in accordance to these Rules will be awarded.

1 3. Winner List

A list of all winners of this Challenge will be posted on AIcrowd Site and may be announced at SBB’s discretion via SBB’s or SBB Affiliates’ Twitter, Facebook, Blog, or Website, or at a SBB or SBB Affiliate sponsored or hosted event.

14. Your Personal Data and Privacy

SBB may use cookies and/or collect IP addresses for the purpose of implementing or exercising its rights or obligations under the Rules, for information purposes, identifying your location, including without limitation for the purpose of redirecting you to the appropriate geographic website, if applicable, or for any other lawful purpose in accordance with the Privacy Policy.

SBB may use the personal data you provide via your participation in this Challenge:

  • to contact you in relation to the Challenge;
  • to confirm the details of your Entry;
  • to administer and execute this Challenge, including sharing it with SBB Admins;
  • at SBB’s discretion, to credit you and/or your Team for the Entry, identify you and/or your Team as a Winner, or other similar notice; and
  • as otherwise noted in these Rules or as necessary for SBB to meet its obligations under these Rules or applicable law.

SBB only requires name and email address to be submitted for you to participate in this Challenge for its uses as outlined in this Section 15.

Please read the terms and conditions of the AIcrowd Site carefully to understand how your data may be used by AIcrowd SA.

15. Additional Terms and Conditions

If SBB determines, in its sole discretion, that any portion of this Challenge is compromised by virus, bugs, unauthorized human intervention, or any other causes beyond its control, that in the sole opinion of SBB corrupts, or impairs the administration, security, fairness or proper participation in/of the Challenge, SBB reserves the right to (a) cancel the Challenge; (b) pause the Challenge until such time the aforementioned issues may be resolved; or (c) consider only those Entries submitted prior to the when the Challenge was so compromised for the prizes.

To the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, you agree that SBB, SBB Affiliates, and SBB Admins, and each of their directors, officers, employees, agents and assigns, will not be liable for personal injuries, death, damages, expenses or costs or losses of any kind resulting from participation or inability

to participate in this Challenge or acceptance of or use or inability to use a prize or parts thereof including, without limitation, claims, suits, injuries, losses and damages related to personal injuries, death, damage to or destruction of property, rights of publicity or privacy, defamation or portrayal in a false light (whether intentional or unintentional), whether under a theory of contract, tort (including negligence), warranty or other theory.

Your use of any other products and services required by these Rules, whether required by these Rules or not, are subject to the terms and conditions associated with such products or services, including the AIcrowd site and services.

In the event any clause or provision of these Rules prove unenforceable, void or incomplete, the validity of the other conditions will remain unaffected.