Charles River Analytics released a case study of an effort for the US Army called CAATE (Culturally Aware Agents for Training Environments). Under this effort, Charles River developed tools to create game-based training applications for soldiers that teach them mission-critical social and cultural skills. Through computer games and by interacting with CAATE-based artificially intelligent agents, soldiers can safely train to effectively interact with residents of other countries and from different cultures.

The problem is today’s warfighters are increasingly engaging in peacekeeping missions, humanitarian missions, and stability and support operations. These missions often require junior leaders and soldiers to interact and communicate effectively with people whose cultures, languages, lifestyles, and beliefs are very different from those found in the US.

Computer-based training in virtual environments has the potential to train soldiers to rehearse missions with a sound knowledge of the relevant local cultural context. Existing computer simulations of culturally situated agents representing humans are either very limited in fidelity, making them unsuitable for training and rehearsal, or prohibitively expensive to develop and maintain as missions and needed skills change.

Under the CAATE effort, Charles River designed and prototyped a modeling toolkit called Persona™ for designing computer-controlled agents for cultural training applications. The approach uses graphical social network modeling technologies to develop models of socially interconnected agents and a graphical human behavior modeling tool for creating culturally-appropriate behaviors for the simulated agents.

Charles River also developed a demonstration training application that uses socially dynamic agents in a virtual environment to teach simple social skills. One of the advantages of Persona is that it makes it easy, using a single user-facing tool, to create agents for several different virtual environments. So far Persona has been used to create virtual agents for a variety of simulation environments, including VBS2, OLIVE, and Half-Life 2.

Virtual Training Environments
Charles River Analytics
Cambridge, MA
617-491-3474
www.cra.com

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Defense Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the February, 2013 issue of Defense Tech Briefs Magazine.

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