The Intelligent Distributed Execution Architecture (IDEA) is a real-time architecture that exploits artificial intelligence planning as the core reasoning engine for interacting autonomous agents. Rather than enforcing separate deliberation and execution layers, IDEA unifies them under a single planning technology. Deliberative and reactive planners reason about and act according to a single representation of the past, present and future domain state. The state obeys the rules dictated by a declarative model of all relevant aspects of the domain - the subsystem to be controlled, internal control processes of the IDEA agent, and interactions with other agents. We present IDEA concepts — modeling, the IDEA core architecture, the unification of deliberation and reaction under planning — and illustrate its use in a simple example. Finally, we present several real-world applications of IDEA, and compare IDEA to other high-level control approaches.