The University of Southampton

ECS success at AAMAS 2016

Published: 
6 June 2016
Illustration
Team members Dr Enrico Gerding, Dr Sebastian Stein, Professor Nick Jennings and Dr Avi Rosenfeld being presented with their award

A Southampton team from Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) has won the 'Best Innovative Applications Paper' award at this year’s annual AAMAS conference – the international conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems.

The team of researchers from the Agents, Interaction and Complexity research group in ECS, have been working on electric vehicle (EV) smart charging mechanisms. These mechanisms will become necessary as an increase in EVs will place significant strains on our electricity distribution infrastructure. Their work mostly focuses on how auction-like market mechanisms can be applied to schedule EV charging intelligently and efficiently. In these mechanisms, drivers effectively place bids on electricity, which indicate their willingness to pay and their individual constraints for charging.

The team’s paper, “Bid2Charge: Market user interface design for electric vehicle charging”, won the Best Innovative Applications Paper award at the AAMAS Conference, held this year in Singapore. In it, the team explored how these complex auction mechanisms can be presented through simple interfaces to non-expert users (ie EV drivers). This is a vital step towards making such mechanisms usable and acceptable for their intended end-users. Through experiments with over 300 non-expert users, they showed that simpler interfaces (which significantly reduce the complexity of the bids that drivers can submit) reduce not only deliberation time for drivers, but actually increase their performance at the same time. This means they choose bids that more closely match their driving patterns, without requesting too much or too little electricity for charging.

The paper also shows how reinforcement learning (a type of machine learning) can be used to predict how people respond to these simplified interfaces. This promises to enable the designers of charging mechanisms (eg EV / chargepoint manufacturers or electricity distribution companies) to test wide ranges of interfaces before starting costly user trials.

AAMAS is the main international conference on intelligent agents, and it is also one of the most prestigious AI conferences. The “Innovative Applications” theme is a special track at the conference for applications of agent-based technologies to commercial and/or public policy domains.

The team’s award-winning paper can be found at http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/387250/

Pictured: Team members Dr Enrico Gerding, Dr Sebastian Stein, Professor Nick Jennings and Dr Avi Rosenfeld being presented with their award

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