Testbed for Worldwide Agent Network: Research and Development
The Agentcity vision is: An ambient proactive environment where heterogeneous autonomous and increasingly intelligent systems representing businesses, services and individuals are able to interact with each other in a peer to peer manner and enable flexible and dynamic composition of services. Knowledge, information and service sharing is effectively available to users and organisations. When new pertinent or innovative services are available they are immediately offered to the appropriate user. Services are automatically discovered and integrated at the right level of interaction. Ontology, security, reputation and trust services in the environment should further enrich the range of businesses and private interactions possible between agent peers. Furthermore, the environment should be open to allow new services and systems to be connected and integrated semantically by coming on-line automatically.
The primary objectives of this project are:
(a) to create a realistic, decentralised open environment which enables high level semantic interoperability between systems to support formation of novel, dynamic value constellations,
b) to build sufficient knowledge and understanding of dynamic open environments to enable transition to widespread usage in reliable commercial grade systems.
The project addresses dynamic value constellations in Four ways:
(1) Designing and deploying an open extensible network environment which can support heterogeneous service building blocks composable into new value added service
(2) The integration of business services into the environment to support rich interactions
(3) The bringing together agent level communication technologies to provide a unified framework for modelling dynamic application services and
(4) Demonstration points to show some of the depth and breadth of the world wide network of agent platforms and services.
The AgentCities project constitutes the first project of its kind for the purpose of setting up a world wide network of always running FIPA platforms, to be used as a testbed for standard validation as well as for standard-based agent services deployment. Each AgentCities platform will support services modelled for a single real-world city or place. Services deployed in the testbed will initially centre on information and transaction services for real-world objects such as bars, restaurants, hotels, travel infrastructure, theatres etc. Agent-based applications will be able to access these services world-wide using federated directory services (DFs) and FIPA communication services. The set of services deployed in the network can then be used as building blocks to construct new agent services.
True interoperability at the semantic level providing accessible rich set of services:
(a) realised by the integration and interoperability test activities,
(b) via the demonstrator which shows the development status of service components and service integration,
(c) deployment through Agentcities.NET take up measure and FIPA,
(d) Live persistent test framework for large scale long term testing of intelligent agents, allowing services and users to join and contribute the service at many levels.
Beyond the individual merits of the 8 results described in the following of the TIP, this section outlines the impact of results to date. The impact of the results to date is primarily:- Helping people understand the remaining project technical results
- Informal interest from the Semantic Web and (in particular) Semantic Web Services communities in the outcomes
- since these technologies are targeting similar end results.
- Availability of many project components (such as some ontologies) post project for future re-use. The consortium is working hard post project to publicise the results in this area. The final integrated demonstration has been documented in deliverable D5.5 and in an Agentcities/openNet technical report () for wider dissemination. Parts of the demonstration have also been shown most notably at:
- The Workshop on Challenges in Open Agent Systems, Melbourne, Australia, July 2003: demonstrating services for dynamic value composition.
- The IST2003 Event in Milan, Italy, 2-4th October 2003: demonstrating both WP3 and WP4 service cycles. The results have also been presented in a number of the presentations. Notably also the final demonstration results (and their intuitive nature) played a significant role in the understanding of the overall project for the jury of the Descartes Prize () for which Agentcities is one of eight nominated finalists. Additional impact of work is also emerging but will take time to fully be felt in the research (and business community).
Examples of the impact however are:
- Reuse of the Agentcities testbed infrastructure: at least two major funded projects (EuropeAid @lis and the German Agents priority program) are committed to continued operation of the testbed and deployment of new applications on it. Around 5 other projects are planning the same.
- Technical feedback from each of WP2-WP4 has been given to FIPA and use cases provided to W3C to propagate knowledge gained in the project.
- External facing activities such as Agentcities.NET and the two Agentcities workshops in the past two years have seen a very significant response (80 members for Agentcities. NET, over 80 papers submitted to both workshops together).
- The openNet forum is currently being formed as a non-profit body to help manage the project
- a large number of organisations have already expressed interest in participating.