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Paper w78-2010-142:
Towards an Agent-Augmented Virtual Design and Construction Approach

Facilitated by the SciX project

Esther Obonyo, Mukund Patil, Chimay Anumba

Towards an Agent-Augmented Virtual Design and Construction Approach

Abstract:There has been a rapid growth in the use of Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) applications for design and functionality analysis in the early stages of the project development cycle. Although significant strides have been made in refining the functionality of such applications, there is still no overall integration scheme that addresses the challenges inherent in knowledge management for organization learning. There are several initiatives directed addressing this challenge through leveraging on Semantic Web technologies, to address these challenges. Some of these efforts are directed at the developing the potential for using software agents to automate some of the tasks inherent in information retrieval through enhancing the implementation of dynamic, domain-specific components. This paper discusses the deployment of an agent-based approach to enhance the modeling and simulation of construction activities. The main body of the paper identifies specific roles that can be delegated to agents in the deployment of an intelligent, virtual architecture. The paper also describes a proof-of-concept application that was implemented to assess the feasibility of using agents within VDC applications. The proof-of-concept models the flow of formwork components in a construction yard. Based on the findings, it is clear that there is a great potential for enhancing VDC applications using an agent-based approach. Given that agents-based systems are by definition software components that exhibit flexible and autonomous action in dynamic, unpredictable context, they can automate functions such as information extraction, structuring and retrieval. These benefits were apparent in the experimental use of the approach. This notwithstanding, the concept of agents is still relatively new and there are some implementations challenges that will need to be address if the approach is to be scaled up. The paper concludes with a concise discussion of the implications of the research and identifies specific components of the agent-based approach that will be implemented as part of follow up activities.

Keywords:virtual applications, organizational learning, knowledge management, agents

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