SPA: Verbal Interactions between Agents and Avatars in Shared Virtual Environments using Propositional Planning
We present a novel approach for generating plausible verbal interactions between virtual human-like agents and user avatars in shared virtual environments. Sense-Plan-Ask, or SPA, extends prior work in propositional planning and natural language processing to enable agents to plan with uncertain information, and leverage question and answer dialogue with other agents and avatars to obtain the needed information and complete their goals. The agents are additionally able to respond to questions from the avatars and other agents using natural-language enabling real-time multi-agent multi-avatar communication environments. Our algorithm can simulate tens of virtual agents at interactive rates interacting, moving, communicating, planning, and replanning. We find that our algorithm creates a small runtime cost and enables agents to complete their goals more effectively than agents without the ability to leverage natural-language communication. We demonstrate quantitative results on a set of simulated benchmarks and detail the results of a preliminary user-study conducted to evaluate the plausibility of the virtual interactions generated by SPA. Overall, we find that participants prefer SPA to prior techniques in 84\% of responses including significant benefits in terms of the plausibility of natural-language interactions and the positive impact of those interactions.