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MASA Group selected by Epic Games for a MegaGrant to develop Direct AI Plugin

Epic Games has committed $100 million to support game developers, enterprise professionals, media and entertainment creators, students, educators, and tool developers doing amazing things for the 3D graphics community.

July 15 2021, Paris, France: MASA Group SA (MASA), a market-leading developer of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based Modeling & Simulation software for the defense, emergency preparedness, serious games, and game development markets, is a proud recipient of the Epic Games MegaGrant. 

MASA is delighted to have been awarded an Epic Games MegaGrant for their ongoing work with Direct AI. MegaGrants are a pledge of financial support by Epic for projects they find inspiring and beneficial for their community. First launched in 2019, MegaGrants is a $100 million program that continues Epic Games’ long-standing commitment to the success of all creators. It is aimed to assist game developers, enterprise professionals, media and entertainment creators, students, educators, and tool developers doing outstanding work with Unreal Engine or enhancing open-source capabilities for the 3D graphics community.

Direct AI is a software development kit (SDK) designed for the creation of autonomous agents evolving in an unpredictable, real, or virtual, environment. It is the result of more than 15 years of experience and collaboration with MASA’s customers. Currently in its fifth version, this recognized, mature, and robust, technology is applied in many research projects, providing users with the right concepts and behavior modeling tools. DirectAI is also used in SWORD, an automated constructive simulation designed to improve training, analysis, and decision support, for both commanding officers in the military, and crisis managers in the emergency preparedness sector. SWORD is used by defense organizations in over 20 countries for their simulation needs. 

Unlike other approaches, Direct AI facilitates the development of realistic behaviors; that is, reactive, adaptive and opportunistic behaviors that require introducing compromises in situations where goals are contradictory, and several actions are possible.

Direct AI Plugin will extend the AI capabilities of Unreal Engine 4 (UE4), allowing game designers and C++ developers to create and execute behaviors that control actors using Direct AI. It will bring the power of free-flow hierarchies, the paradigm behind Direct AI, into Unreal Engine 4. Free-flow hierarchies are great for authoring realistic behaviors that are reactive and adaptive, as actions are dynamically selected according to their importance, or relevance, for the current situation. Free-flow hierarchies have proved successful in the domain of simulation, robotics, and artificial life. They already embody ideas that have appeared in recent discussions, at GDC for instance, on applications of utility theory to AI.

Agents developed with Direct AI perceive their environment, think and act according to their drives and goals. Direct AI has applications in virtual simulations, games, connected devices, autonomous vehicles and, more generally, robots. It has been integrated into many third-party applications and systems. It can be integrated into any language with a C interface, such as Java, C# and Python.

With project funds from Epic MegaGrant, MASA plans to adapt and integrate a lightweight version of Direct AI that targets real-time systems, to UE4. 

“We’re extremely honored that the efforts of our team at MASA are recognized by a program like Epic MegaGrants, and a company like Epic Games. We are planning to create a more stunning version of Direct AI’s showcase military demo, originally developed using Unity, for UE4. ” said Yann Prudent, CTO at MASA.

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