Pe?a-Mora F, Craig M
AVSAR: a collaboration system for disaster search and rescue operations using autonomous vehicles
Abstract: The disaster relief community is increasingly focused on issues of critical physical infrastructure in search and rescue operations. As the disaster relief and civil engineering community attempts to expand its abilities in this arena, it is being confronted with constraints related to manpower, risks to human personnel, and system stability. The community can address these barriers by integrating autonomous vehicles and intelligent software agents into its traditionally human elements. The military has been actively pursuing this goal in order to minimize human casualties and expand its functionality, and a technology transfer to the disaster arena would be greatly beneficial. The transition from the military to the disaster relief community is a logical step because of the great number of similarities between the two areas. Both are concerned with operations carried out in hostile, chaotic environments, where many participants from different areas of expertise collaborate to reach an objective, and both are constrained by the quality of intercommunication and the effectiveness of their equipment. Experience gained by the military in the field of autonomous vehicles has shown that while the ratio of autonomous vehicles to humans remains low, there is little trouble in directly controlling these vehicles as personnel can be dedicated to this task alone. However, as the number of autonomous vehicles increases to include personal human assistants and entire teams of vehicles, the task of control and collaboration becomes increasingly difficult. To date, most autonomous vehicle control work has been done with a one-to-one structure where one human controls one vehicle. While this works well when the vehicles are relatively simple and the number of vehicles is small, it does not translate well into the ideal situation of large populations of complex autonomous vehicles. Under these circumstances, intelligent software agents, residing both on the autonomous vehicles and on the communication devices, are needed to handle the task of distributed decision-making. This autonomous decision making ability is particularly critical for the cases where the autonomous vehicles fall out of contact with their human commanders or remote experts such as geotechnical, structural, and earthquake engineers. This paper examines past work done for and by the military in the area of autonomous vehicle systems and examines its application to the field of disaster relief involving critical physical infrastructures. It then presents a system that meets the needs of a combined human - intelligent software agent - autonomous vehicle SR (Search and Rescue) team, operating on critical physical infrastructure in an unstable and hostile environment. The collaboration infrastructure includes an information policy layer and a client application layer that address the need for inter-user communication and flexible command structures, which can be dynamically arranged to meet the situational need.
Keywords: collaborative environments, disaster relief, search and rescue, autonomous vehicles, intelligent software agents, self-organization, control structures, information policy
Full text: content.pdf (1,079,294 bytes) (available to registered users only)
Civil Infrastructure as a chaotic socio-tecnico systems support collaborative innovation
Abstract: The web is no longer just a media or communication outlet. It is morphing into a socioeconomic fact of life. The advancement of semantic web and the increased penetration of social are empowering people to harness their collective intelligence to create, collaborate and trade in knowledge. Starting from this observation, a scenario for community-based, knowledge-intensive environment for development and management of civil infrastructure is presented. The proposed scenario was inspired by similar trends in other industries and analysis of recent cases where the web influenced civil infrastructure development and planning. The proposed scenario embraces open, bottom-up decision making process where communities are empowered to develop, share and test ideas for infrastructure projects. Engineers and public officials are responsible for supporting the self-organizing emergence of these, expectedly, chaotic ideas. Putting the development process on the edge of chaos supports innovation and does not mean randomness. Consequently, it should be embraced by all. Accordingly, our analysis tools have to be geared more towards analysis of networks of people and their ideas; support autonomous evolutionary approaches that can collate chaotic ideas; providing communities with semantic-enabled analysis tools to support the generation of ideas; encourage the evolution of infrastructure Apps; and provide platforms for their dynamic linkage.
Keywords: infrastructure, collective intelligence, socio-technical system, networked knowledge, information system, social and semantic web.
Full text: content.pdf (657,994 bytes) (available to registered users only)