Originally a computer science graduate, Paolo’s interests soon evolved into software engineering and his subsequent quarter-century of experience encompassed both pure university research and the commercial world. His involvement with AOS began over a decade ago when the company was founded and he’s been a consultant/employee ever since.
Today, Paolo is the principal architect at AOS and his responsibilities include designing agent-based software systems, reviewing existing systems and monitoring industrial R&D worldwide as it applies to AOS niche technology.
While not directly involved in ASTRAEA 1, Paolo was quick to recognise its ground-breaking potential and watched, with great interest, as the programme developed from the early funding stages to final deliveries at ParcAberporth.
“It was a hugely challenging project,” he recalled, “and I was really impressed with their achievements – they did what they set out to do and more – much to the surprise of the programme’s doubters I might add.”
Paolo’s role in ASTRAEA 2 is to support the development of an ADMS (Autonomous Decision Making System) capability, which uses C-BDI (Certifiable - Beliefs, Desires, Intentions) as an experimental platform. C-BDI was developed by AOS with full autonomy in mind and includes some significant advances in procedural decision-making capability beyond the current state-of-the-art. Combining the latest research in autonomy (e.g. goal-driven reasoning) with safety-critical reliability, C-BDI is designed for safety-critical embedded systems.
Apart from UAS applications, AOS foresees a substantial market for safety-critical decision support systems in a wide variety of markets. AOS is currently applying C-BDI to a system for monitoring, detecting and advising on abnormalities in offshore oil operations, in conjunction with Statoil, the world’s largest operator of offshore oil and gas facilities. The application of ASTRAEA-derived technologies to new markets is one of the primary reasons for the Technology Strategy Board’s support of the unique ASTRAEA programme.
“C-BDI reasons about motivation, current commitments and sudden changes in the situation,” Paolo explained. “Combine this with high reliability and you have a near perfect fit for embedded systems.”
As to the future of UAS after ASTRAEA 2, Paolo predicts a major breakthrough in terms of autonomous capabilities within the next four years. But after that, the big hurdle will be public acceptance and that can be agonisingly slow to gain.
“Our skies won’t suddenly fill with UAVs,” he said. “This will be a gradual process where public perception slowly and carefully absorbs and finally trusts the technology.”
AOS leads the world in the revolutionary new field of autonomous and semi-autonomous systems. Our software products provide the decision-making capability that underlies autonomy and they can be employed in a variety of ways including autonomous vehicles, oil platforms, IT systems or even running on a tablet or smartphone as an intelligent assistant.
Within ASTRAEA, AOS is the lone SME that’s also a prime contractor. Our roles include advising fellow consortium members on autonomy and autonomous systems and modelling the autonomous decision-making aspects of UAS, with emphasis on the impact of decision-making software systems on aircraft safety and certification.