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Agents for multidisciplinary design in virtual worlds

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 August 2007

Mary Lou Maher
Key Centre for Design Computing and Cognition, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Michael Rosenman
Key Centre for Design Computing and Cognition, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Kathryn Merrick
Key Centre for Design Computing and Cognition, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia


Agent models provide a generalized approach to the design of systems that autonomously monitor and affect an environment. Societies of agents that reason and communicate about an environment can achieve complex emergent behavior to facilitate and augment human activities. This paper introduces artificial agent technologies as a means by which the behavioral complexity of virtual worlds can be extended to provide the functionality needed to support collaboration in multidisciplinary design teams. Three key roles are identified that artificial agents can play to provide this functionality: support for multiple views of designed objects, support for the expression of relationships between designed objects, and compatibility with existing design tools. The implementation of a society of agents fulfilling these roles within a virtual world based, multidisciplinary design tool called DesignWorld is described. The increased behavioral complexity and functionality of DesignWorld's underlying virtual world is demonstrated using the results of multidisciplinary design experiments with DesignWorld.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007

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