The University of Southampton

ECS disaster simulation system wins championship prize

Published: 3 August 2007

An ECS-designed system which relies on computerised agents to act on its behalf during emergency scenarios has been awarded a RoboCupRescue championship prize.

A team from the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics & Computer Science (ECS) was voted winner of the infrastructure competition in the RoboCupRescue World Championships ( which was held in Atlanta this month.

The team, led by Professor Nick Jennings, ECS Professor of Computer Science, developed ECSKernel, a simulator that plugs into a multi-agent research test bed.

ECSKernel was designed as part of ALADDIN (Autonomous Learning Agents for Decentralised Data), a five-year project funded by BAE Systems and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to research agent-based technologies to work in emergency situations.

The ECSKernel provides a number of functionalities that allow researchers to benchmark their coordination, multi-agent learning, and other agent-based techniques under settings that mimic the real world.

The Infrastructure Competition is a contest organised within the RobocupRescue Simulation league and aims at selecting the best infrastructure components that have been developed.

These infrastructure components will then be developed as part of the RobocupRescue Agent Simulation platform. The latter simulates the events that happen during a disaster in a given city and provides the framework for researchers to build agents that will represent emergency responders trying to mitigate the disaster. As such it provides a realistic playground for demonstrating, testing, and evaluating multi-agent systems based techniques that have been developed.

Professor Jennings commented: ‘This work highlights the importance of using advanced computer techniques for real world problems such as disaster response. We are happy to be at the forefront of work in this area and hope that many other groups around the world will use and build upon the system we have developed.’

The members of the ECSKernel design team led by Professor Jennings were: Sarvapali D. Ramchurn, Alex Rogers, Kate Macarthur, Perukrishnen Vytelingum, and Alessandro Farinelli.

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