AI for Herding Sheep
Keywords:NPC Coordination, Path planning, Case Study, Behavior modeling
Shepherding with a dog presents an interesting challenge for artificial intelligence, with multiple intelligent systems assessing and interacting with each other in order to achieve a variety of goals. We present a solution to this problem, which consists of a dog AI making use of influence mapping, state machines and A* pathfinding to respond intelligently to real-life shepherding commands issued by a high-level shepherd AI steering the flock of sheep through waypoints on a variety of maps by using pathfinding and influence maps. The role of the AI shepherd can also be taken by a human player (using either a point and click or voice recognition interface) for matches against the artificial shepherd which proved to be a worthy opponent for human testers. The system was evaluated through user testing and provided a high degree of realism and engaging gameplay relying heavily on the workings of the presented AI components.