ITTC Project

Autonomous Negotiating Teams (ANTs)

Project Award Date: 0000-00-00


Life is filled with negotiations, for people never get everything they want, when they want it. So too in the military scenarios of DARPA's most recently funded project on Autonomous Negotiating Teams (ANTs).

In these problem-based scripts, every military entity-brigade, soldier, rifle, radio, aircraft-is part of a computer network that negotiates resources, assesses capabilities, makes plans, and takes action. These autonomous negotiating teams also bid for open tasks and bid to supply operations.

Investigators Costas Tsatsoulis and Douglas Niehaus are applying a case-based, reflective negotiation (CRN) problem-solving approach to their ANTs project. They will integrate case-based reasoning (CBR) and utility theory and apply them to virtual reality scenarios.

For example, perhaps U.S. planes are flying toward an enemy missile that is set to release a warhead in a matter of minutes. Each of the planes is technically capable of destroying the missile, but some are nearer to the target than others. Some have more fuel. So negotiations begin among the planes' computers to evaluate which of the aircraft can provide a good enough-soon enough solution.

Using problem-solving computations created by the investigators, these ANTs will reason about their own probabilities of success, their utilities and priorities, as well as about those of other ANTs with whom they are negotiating. They will evaluate negotiation policies in light of their shared goal to destroy the missile in time.

"We view the retrieval of a negotiation strategy as a decision problem," says Costas Tsatsoulis, "and integrate CBR with utility theory allowing the CRN system to handle problems where information is uncertain, incomplete or missing."

This problem-solving research may one day be applied to non-military situations. In a manufacturing setting, equipment-through computers-may negotiate for its own parts from suppliers. Computers supporting emergency response teams may negotiate for supplies, vehicles, and medical personnel.


Project Sponsors

Primary Sponsor(s): Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

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