Open Simulator Project

Exploring Autonomous Virtual Agents as Components in a Virtual World Learning Environment


This project proposes the exploration of an on line virtual learning environment which uses virtual characters, called “chatbots”, augmented with artificial intelligence, to guide a student through a learning activity. This research would be based on existing open source technologies, as described below, and thus can focus specifically on the autonomous virtual learning environment without significant investment in creating the underlying virtual platform.

My doctoral program focus was in the area's of artificial intelligence and linguistics, and as such this project an excellent opportunity for me continue work in my area of interest and specialization. The goal will be to create programmable virtual characters the can interact with human controlled avatars intelligently, and with natural language, within the context of a virtual world.


For the past couple years I have served in an advisory role for a ministry project of Central Ohio Youth For Christ involving ministering to teens in a on-line, 3-dimensional virtual world environment. The concept has been to create a safe, affirming, and life-like environment where youth can meet, along with facilitators, and engage in meaningful Bible study and dialog. An overview of this project can be viewed here:

Last summer, as part of this project, my department set up a server environment for OpenSimulator , an open source server platform for hosting virtual worlds. This software is compatible with the client for SecondLife . This server is up and running, and ready to be used in this summers project.


My proposal involves the following activities:

  1. Explore several of the current platforms for implementing and using “bots” in the OpenSimulator virtual world environment. This includes the Alicebot and environments. These environments are rule based systems for controlling the autonomous interactions of “bots”, e.g. virtual characters in a simulated world that are not controlled by humans.

  2. I plan on attending the conference “FOURTH COLLOQUIUM ON CONVERSATIONAL SYSTEMS”, to be held in Philadelphia, PA on April 23, 2011. This conference include presentations on virtual autonomous “chatbots”. The registration fee is

  3. Create a simple example learning game utilizing an AUI controlled virtual character. I will pick a introductory computer science concept to be taught, such as linked lists or sorting techniques.

I expect to spend at least 150 hours on this project, and will also be seeking additional from a Columbus based foundation to fund my son Luke and MVNU alumni Scott Martin as a programming assistants in this project.

References :






-- JimSkon - 2011-04-12
Topic revision: r1 - 2011-06-14 - JimSkon
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