The Future of Disaster Response: Humans Working with Multiagent Teams using DEFACTO

Nathan Schurr, Janusz Marecki, Milind Tambe, Paul Scerri, Nikhil Kasinadhuni, and J. P. Lewis

When addressing terrorist threats we must give special attention to both prevention and disaster response. Enabling effective interactions between agent teams and humans for disaster response is a critical area of research, with encouraging progress in the past few years. However, previous work suffers from two key limitations: (i) limited human situational awareness, reducing human effectiveness in directing agent teams and (ii) the agent team’s rigid interaction strategies that limit team performance. This paper focuses on a novel disaster response software prototype, called DEFACTO (Demonstrating Effective Flexible Agent Coordination of Teams through Omnipresence). DEFACTO is based on a software proxy architecture and 3D visualization system, which addresses the two limitations described above. First, the 3D visualization interface enables human virtual omnipresence in the environment, improving human situational awareness and ability to assist agents. Second, generalizing past work on adjustable autonomy, the agent team chooses among a variety of team-level interaction strategies, even excluding humans from the loop in extreme circumstances.

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