Blog Overview

Agent-Based Digital Teacher for Interactive Remote Training

Author: Dr. Stefan Pauli, Senior Data Scientist, Swiss Smart Factory von SIPBB

As part of a project sponsored by Innosuisse, the Swiss Smart Factory (SSF), together with its partners MyLiveZone, Hilscher and the Swiss Distance University of Applied Sciences (Fernfachhochschule Schweiz – FFHS), is developing and testing an agent-based digital teacher to support practical online remote training for complex industry software and hardware with high availability and reliability. The agent-based digital teacher helps lecturers to efficiently create appropriate training materials and learners to practice and acquire practical knowledge independently or with the help of agents.

Initial Situation
The company MyLiveZone provides a solution for remote training in the use of industry software and the associated hardware components (sensors, actuators, controllers, gateways, etc.). This also allows standard principles and concepts such as Industry 4.0, cyber-physical systems and IoT to be demonstrated and explained. On the MyLiveZone platform, real-time access to industry hardware and linked industry software is provided via the browser (without installation, see Figure), via camera and remote desktop. This opens up worldwide, interactive access to a wide range of training locations and teaching materials.

However, training with a large number of participants is only possible to a limited extent, since the workstations have been digitized, but not the teacher. It is for this reason that clients such as Hilscher usually conduct their training courses in workshops with coaches and participants in the same room. The development of self-explanatory training documents, so that new users can study at home or in the office independently without a teacher, for example the programming and handling of the Hilscher IoT gateways, requires enormous effort. This is where the digital teacher comes in.

A budget of approximately CHF 450,000 is available for the project, which is sponsored by Innosuisse.

Objectives of the Project
We want to find a way to use artificial intelligence (AI) to give the digital teacher the intelligence it needs to do its job. In addition, this teacher must be deployed using web technologies to be integrated into the existing MyLiveZone platform in a design-compliant manner. 

The modular and agent-based structure makes it easy to get started and quickly lets the learners experience their first feelings of success. It also enables the teacher to create the exercises efficiently and in an as automated a way as possible. This means that the learning sessions are no longer tied to the time and place of the provider. Interactive online remote training lives up to the demands of a society that is mobile, forever busy and always online to access relevant knowledge and teaching materials from anywhere and at any time via the Internet (ad-hoc and meta-learning). The agent-based approach provides both the teacher and the learner with a digital companion that supports these groups in their respective tasks as needed.

Project Partners
Both MyLiveZone and Hilscher as well as the FFHS are part of the SSF membership program. All partners had already known each other from various SSF activities, such as networking events, joint exhibitions and training courses, before the start of the project.

Industry Partners
- MyLiveZone   
- Hilscher 

Research Partner s
- Swiss Smart Factory