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Lightweight Extensible Agent Platform


Project LEAP addresses the need for open infrastructures and services, which support dynamic and mobile enterprise workforces. It has developed agent-based services supporting three requirements of a mobile enterprise workforce: - Knowledge management (anticipating individual knowledge requirements); - Decentralised work co-ordination (empowering individuals, co-ordinating and trading jobs); - Travel management (planning and coordinating individual travel needs). Central to these agent-based services is the need for a standardised Agent Platform. Project LEAP has developed an agent platform that is: - Lightweight (executable on small devices such as PDAs and mobile phones); - Extensible (in size and functionality); - Operating-system agnostic (written in Java); - Supporting agent communications over wireless links (GPRS); - FIPA compliant; - Released in Open-Source (under the LGPL license). The platform, along with the services have served in the development of two agent-based applications supporting mobile workforces, which have been assessed in two field trials, a first one hosted by ADAC in Germany and a second one run by BT in the UK. LEAP achievements are: - The LEAP software, properly combined with the JADE agent platform, allows deploying ubiquitous agent-based applications on a wide range of Java-enabled devices, which run seamlessly on wire line and wireless networks. JADE-LEAP additionally provides compliance with FIPA specifications and interoperability with other FIPA platforms, and also access to all functionalities provided by JADE such as support for content languages and ontologies, support for interaction protocols and a rich suit of graphic management and monitoring tools. - The LEAP software developed and released in open-source has already been downloaded by more than 1 000 people, who are using it for their projects. The modular design of LEAP allows external contributor to add additional features and to make them available to the community. The number of papers referencing LEAP in the 2002 conferences already attests to the important popularity of the platform. LEAP members continue to provide support to these developers and users through the leap-info mailing list. - The field trials have been the first step towards new kinds of connected applications that support mobile workforces. The integrated use of new technologies such as intelligent agents, GPRS, GPS, though the risk and difficulty it includes, provides new pieces of functionality that will significantly change the way mobile workers currently operate, giving them technical support in their daily tasks, increasing the interactions with their co-workers, giving them more responsibility and more freedom. The fact that these applications are receiving a great interest during demonstrations is very promising. - Project LEAP also drove the FIPA standards towards mobile devices. The Gateways and newly created Ad-hoc Technical Committee pave the way towards new kinds of agents on lightweight devices and new kind of collaborations due to the characteristics of these devices in which the JADE-LEAP platform is expected to play a major role.