But are Software Agents for Me?

Because the term agent is used to describe a wide range of architectures, some quite trivial, we will focus on capabilities that are at the "high end" of the spectrum. Agent-oriented systems at the highly capable end of the spectrum, such as JACK, have the following key features:

  • Autonomous – Operate without  external supervision.
  • Proactive/Reactive – Exhibit both goal-directed and reactive behaviour.
  • Situated – Focus on the relevant subset of the environment, and respond to change in a timely fashion.
  • Social – Interact with other agents to achieve joint goals.
  • Intelligent – Can perform functions that require higher-level cognitive abilities.

These features lend themselves to a wide range of applications, and provide significant benefits. The following table outlines some of the agent application areas we have experience of:

Application Area Features and Benefits


  • Agents flexibly handle unexpected events such as machine failure.
  • Custom manufacturing of consumer-specified special orders.
  • Opportunistic rescheduling.

Integration of Legacy Systems

  • Integration of disparate databases.
  • Adds intelligence and responsiveness.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
  • Ability to autonomously follow a flight plan.
  • Replanning of flight path in response to unexpected events.
Air Traffic Management
  • Manages a large number of aircraft.
  • Handles unexpected changes in the situation.
Military Simulation
  • Realistic representation of simulated humans.
Fault Diagnosis
  • Distributed agents monitor and diagnose individual components in a larger system.
Prognostic Health Management (PHM)
  • Identification of incipient faults.
  • Integration of sensor information and maintenance histories.
Business Processes
  • Automated, goal-directed execution of business processses.
  • Automated processes respond to events and invoke the appropriate course of action.
Dynamic Trading
  • Each agent  monitors a different aspect of the market.
  • Quickly respond to trading opportunities.
Intelligent Decision Support
  • Agents with domain knowledge can provide expert and timely advice to users.

Next: JACK – The World's Leading Agent Development/Deployment Tool

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