A3ME – Device-Agent based Middleware Approach for Mixed Mode Environments

A3ME Mixed Mode Environments (MME) refer to networks composed of very different kinds of devices, which are distributed among various physical environments and communicate with each other using different communication technologies. The single nodes in the network can be sensors, actuators, robots, Unmanned Vehicles (UV), Human Interface Devices, Mission Control Stations, etc. All those devices have their specific capabilities and constraints. Many of these devices are manufactured by different companies and use different software and operating systems, if any. Those devices can communicate with each other by wire, radio, light, sound or other methods. For each of this communication methods many different communication technologies exist, which use different protocols, frequencies, encoding, etc.

Nowadays application developers have to deal with the before mentioned heterogeneity when developing a new application for such a network. Each time a new kind of node appears the application has to be adjusted to deal with the new hardware. Middleware is a way to avoid this direct interaction of applications with the different hardware and software of the devices. So middleware has to abstract over all the different devices, their capabilities and communication technologies and to offer the applications uniform interfaces to interact with those.

The goal of my research is to enable interoperability among different nodes without the need of adjustments each time new hardware is introduced. The device-agent based approach offers an abstraction for the different hardware: it sees all the different nodes in the network as independent entities, we call them device-agents. These device-agents know their capabilities and constraints and offer these knowledge to other device-agents and also can request these information from others.

To enable platform and communication technology independent exchange of self description and other data appropriate protocols need to be defined.

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