After five years of trials, Craig Knoblock and his team at the Information Sciences Institute of the University (ISI) of Southern California, have developed Heracles Maps, an easy-to-use laptop package to optimize routes in the whole world for both military and business travelers. This news release, "A SuperMap for Soldiers -- Or Business Travelers," says that the application integrates various sources of geospatial information, such as satellite imagery of mapping data. From this data, soldiers can easily find a safe route between two locations without being seen or shot by an enemy in another location. This package can easily be adapted to civilian applications, such as a powerful travel planner.
Here are some details about the concept of Heracles Maps.
Decades worth of detailed, accumulated geographical information is now available to front-line special operations troops in a concentrated, portable, easy-to-use laptop package created by the University of Southern California.
HeraclesMaps can instantly solve life-and-death tactical questions like, "Help us find a route from point A to B where we cannot be observed (or shot at) by someone at point C."
It can instantly dissect the geography of a city, showing users the electrical power grid, all rail, roads, pathways, and other man-made features, plus much more both in map and photographic form.
Even after several years of work, Craig Knoblock recognizes that there are still some difficulties to integrate various sources of data.
The main challenge was, the scientist earlier wrote, that information "obtained from various data sources may have different projections, different accuracy levels, and different inconsistencies. The applications that integrate information from various geospatial data sources must be able to overcome these inconsistencies accurately, in real-time and for large regions."
Knoblock says HeraclesMaps digests satellite imagery, mapping data, and allows users to access the full range of the date quickly and intuitively through an interface that anticipates questions.
Here is an example of an Heracles map (Credit: Craig Knoblock/ISI).
For civilian tourists or business travelers, map and image annotations reveal detailed information about specific points when a cursor passes over them.
Heracles maps is only one of the children of the Heracles project, an interactive data-driven constraint-based hierarchical planner.
The Heracles project, the parent of Heracles maps, uses a variety of powerful tools including artificial intelligence agents to extract and dynamically reconfigure information from diverse sources.
For more information, you can look at this Heracles Maps demo, available on the ISI website.
Source: Information Sciences Institute news release, May 28, 2004