By Heather Packer, Agent and research fellow at the University of Southampton.
Extending existing code bases can be problematic and time confusing due to a lack of documentation and comments, and a lack of clarity of the workflow between components. I have spent the last couple of months extending RoboCup Rescue - the standard, multi-agent search and rescue simulation platform - so that it contains more detailed and realistic information that can be modelled with ontologies. My extension enables agents to learn new information from these ontologies, and make choices based on the information they learn.
The issues I encountered while extending RoboCup Rescue are common in any software produced for research, and this was highlighted at the recent Collaborations Workshop 2012 in Oxford. Most relevant to my work were the discussions on Writing code for everybody and Best practices for documenting scientific software development.