IBM Watson AI XPrize®: Team Cougaar

Team Cougaar, established by Cougaar Software, Inc. (CSI), is among 147 teams from 22 countries competing for the $5M in IBM Watson AI XPRIZE®, a global competition challenging teams to develop powerful Artificial Intelligence (AI) based applications and demonstrate how humans can collaborate with AIs to tackle the world’s grand challenges.

Orchestrating Disaster Response

Team Cougaar’s goal is to vastly improve the performance of major natural disaster response efforts in terms of speed and effectiveness of the response, reduction in lives lost, injury complications and disease, and increasing the rate of recovery for impacted communities. With the implementation of the AI-enabled global disaster response network, response time for planning will be reduced from days to hours, time to get services in place may be reduced from weeks to days, and the costs of response may be cut by 30-50%. The key is to get organizations to collaborate more effectively, coordinating activities, sharing information and resources efficiently, and orchestrating individual response efforts for maximum benefit to the affected communities.

“This is a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the world the power of AI-enhanced distributed collaborative planning to increase multi-organization coordination, orchestrate disparate activities, and proactively monitor execution in complex, dynamic disaster response scenarios.”
Dr. Todd Carrico, Team Cougaar AI Director

Team Cougaar will apply AI to overcome the vast complexity and uncertainty inherent in planning and coordinating disaster response efforts. AI-enabled planning and execution management works with planners and managers across organizations to improve the planning, coordination, orchestration, and execution of disaster response activities, allowing dozens of diverse, disparate, and widely distributed organizations to effectively respond to a major natural disaster. It is the team’s vision that governments, NGOs, military, commercial, and private citizens can work together using AI-driven shared situational awareness of government and NGO resources (e.g. locations and readiness) for dynamic orchestration to reduce the impacts and speed the recovery globally.

Faster Response, When You Need It the Most

As Earth’s population centers become larger and denser and as global warming effects become more acute, the communities of the world will become more vulnerable and will experience more frequent and more intense natural disasters. Using Artificial Intelligence to save lives, reduce suffering and expedite the recovery of a community has the potential for a worldwide impact. In any given year there are about 300 Natural Disasters. Typically every 2-3 years there is a major natural disaster which impacts in excess of 100K people.

Team Cougaar’s solution orchestrates disaster response by prioritizing tasks, developing time-phased material demand schedules, and producing a map overlay depicting the estimated concentration of casualties, key infrastructure damage, and impacted lines of communications (roads). Planners can work with the AI to refine the plan and to develop additional tasking against the objective. While the AI allocates resources to the tasks and monitors the changing conditions and initial tasking, key personnel can prepare for the response effort in advance.

This process continues, with other organizations joining the network to provide financial, material, or service support to aid in the response. As governments get critical communications restored, relief workers can use their mobile devices to call for support, provide on the ground updates, and coordinate activities. The AI services the requests, updates the situational map, and coordinates activities. As new tasks emerge, or issues arise, the AI recommends the best organization, resources, and schedule to deal with the new challenges. Continuous monitoring, optimized use of resources, and orchestrated operations allows all the injured to be helped, dead to be recovered, and sufficient supplies and water to limit further death. Careful tracking of the people, infrastructure, and contamination allows the relief efforts to minimize follow-on disease and make critical infrastructure repairs in time to head off more injury and disease.

Using Team Cougaar’s technology, automation, intelligent reasoning and planning, orchestrated communication, coordination, and cooperation allows a devastating event to be addressed quickly and effectively by building on shared knowledge and real-time monitoring; minimizing further loss of life, disease, and speeding the recovery of the community.

IBM Watson AI XPrize®

The IBM Watson AI XPRIZE is a $5 million AI and cognitive computing competition challenging teams globally to develop and demonstrate how humans can collaborate with powerful AI technologies to tackle the world’s grand challenges. This prize will focus on creating advanced and scalable applications that benefit consumers and businesses across a multitude of disciplines. The solutions will contribute to the enrichment of available tools and data sets for the usage of innovators everywhere. The goal is also to accelerate the understanding and adoption of AI’s most promising breakthroughs. For more information, visit