ARGUS project named winner in The Engineer Awards 2007
The ARGUS project, a large-scale research programme involving BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Qinetiq, and the Universities of Oxford and Southampton, has received The Engineer Technology and Innovation Award 2007.
This prestigious new award scheme is intended to recognize the significant contributions being made to the UK’s technology economy by universities and industry working together. ARGUS received the Award for Large Company and University Collaboration.
ARGUS is addressing data fusion — how different sources of data can be integrated so that the resulting information is better than any one source. The project was initiated to meet future needs for distributed information processing technologies that can deal with the uncertainty endemic in our world. Its goal was to close the gap between the science of data fusion and the engineering needs of UK industry, where data fusion and signal processing are enabling technologies.
The ARGUS project, now in its fourth year, combines two technologies for the first time. The Southampton team, led by Professor Nick Jennings of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, is concerned with ‘agents’, computer programs that act on behalf of humans, with minimal intervention. ‘We’re interested in systems where a number of these autonomous agents interact with each other, where they have to co-operate, negotiate or co-ordinate,’ he said.
The Oxford team, led by Professor Steve Roberts, is applying Bayesian inference to engineering and life-science problems. When information is incomplete, Bayesian techniques can help work out what are the most likely outcomes of particular actions.
Working together the teams have developed software that allows agents to communicate with each other to solve complex problems involving uncertainty. Each of the three industrial partners is using these approaches for specific problems, involving air traffic control, wide-area surveillance, and aircraft engine service-scheduling.
The challenging nature of the research has brought the groups together: ‘We’ve all taken turns at doing things we wouldn’t have chosen to do on our own,’ says Professor Jennings, ‘and everyone has pulled into the project. For me, it’s the best example of a collaborative project I’ve done, and I’ve been doing them for over 20 years.’
The ECS team, based in Intelligence, Agents, Multimedia, comprises: Professor Nick Jennings, Dr Alex Rogers, Dr Talal Rahwan, Dr Rajdeep Dash, and Dr Perukrishnen Vytelingum.
The project is due to finish next year, but the Oxford and Southampton groups have formed a strategic partnership project with BAE called Autonomous Learning Agents for Decentralised Data and Information Networks (ALADDIN) to take the research forward. Aimed primarily at developing disaster management systems, ALADDIN is extending the use of independent agents and uncertainty-based reasoning into areas where resources are limited and continually shifting.For more information go to www.robots.ox.ac.uk/~argus/