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Distributed intelligent control involves matching the control model more closely with the physical system. This is particularly relevant to industrial control systems that are required to control widely distributed devices in an environment that is prone to disruptions. Although considerable work has been conducted on the application of agent technology to the upper levels of manufacturing control (e.g., scheduling, planning, supply chain management, enterprise integration), the application of these techniques to the physical level of control where real-time constraints are prevalent is relatively new. This paper provides background on the work in this area, discusses key research themes in developing real-time distributed intelligent control systems for industrial applications, and concludes by sharing thoughts about the future prospects in this area.