In recent years, a number of research projects have been conducted to investigate how software agents can support collaboration among human crisis workers and assist them in performing their tasks. By allowing agents to assume the role of an equal team member instead of merely a supporting role, we could fully exploit the capabilities of agents. For example, wecould allow fire robots to take the place of firefighters for efficient fire ground operations in circumstances where fire fighters find difficulty in their activities because of
explosions, toxicleakage, heat, thick smoke hazards, etc. To allow agents in a team to be
treated as equal to humans, agents should behave a little like humans; issues associated with communication and coordination among team members become relevant as well.
In this thesis, we present a system for actor/agent teaming in simulated incident and crisis scenarios. In this system, agents are team members themselves, equal in status to human team members. The purpose of the system is to determine effectiveness of actor/agent teams compared to actor-only teams. Its main components are: a simulator called
RISK, Machinetta's proxy-based coordination framework which supports an actor/agent
team with coordination and planning facilities, and a communication framework that allows actors to communicate in natural language to their agent team members. Actors and agents are connected to this system in order to collaborate in incident and crisis scenarios simulated by RISK. A pilot experiment has revealed important values that can be measured regarding team performance.