At the recent RoboBusiness Conference and Exposition in Pittsburgh, Microsoft Corp. released the first community technology preview (CTP) of Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008, the new version of its robotics programming platform. Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 contains improvements in its runtime performance, distributed computational capabilities and tools.
Scheduled for release later this year, the first preview of the product is now available for evaluation and testing by developers, customers and partners. Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 is a Windows-based environment that can be used by academic, hobbyist and commercial developers for the creation of a variety of robotic programs and testing scenarios.
“We launched Microsoft Robotics Studio in 2006 in response to the robotics community’s request for a mature platform and toolset that would provide for stability and portability, allowing more people to participate and contribute,” said Tandy Trower, general manager of the Microsoft Robotics Group. “Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 demonstrates Microsoft’s continued commitment to help catalyze the emerging new markets for robotics by delivering even better performance and enhanced tools.”
Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 includes the following new elements:
• Increased runtime performance. Performance improvements of 150 percent to 300 percent in message throughput between services within a node and between DSS nodes. Services now load 200 percent faster.
• Improved distributed computational capabilities. Support for distributed language integrated queries (LINQ), which reduces network utilization and simplifies service authoring. LINQ support enables advanced filtering and inline processing of sensor data at the source.
• Improvements to tools. The ability to visually define computational domains within the Microsoft Visual Programming Language (VPL) tool, providing for easier accessibility to managing distributed execution. The Visual Simulation Environment (VSE) tool adds the ability to record and play back simulations, which allows for easier sharing of running simulation experiences. In addition, VSE adds a new floorplan editor to simplify the definition of complicated structures and interiors.
The latest version of the software bears a new name to better reflect its objective to support software development for robots and to better align with Microsoft’s other development tools.
Previous versions of the software gained widespread support throughout the robotics industry, with more than 200,000 copies downloaded and more than 50 companies pledging their support by joining the Microsoft Robotics Supporting Partner Program.
Aldebaran Robotics has joined the Microsoft Robotics Supporting Partner Program. Microsoft is working with Aldebaran to bring services and simulation capabilities for the Nao robot to the Microsoft robotics platform. Developers can take advantage of the detailed simulation to validate motion sequences, or test image recognition algorithms.
Aldebaran’s Nao robot is designed to be an affordably priced, humanoid robot with first-class mechanical, electronic and cognitive features and up to 25 degrees of freedom.
“A persistent challenge for the robotics industry up till now has been the limited choice within development platforms that would allow developers to easily create robotic applications,” said Bruno Maisonnier, president and founder of Aldebaran Robotics. “Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 will contribute greatly to expand the robotics industry and encourage more developers to design new robot applications. We are pleased to support these efforts.”
Microsoft also announced that RoboChamps, a virtual robotics competition built atop Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008, will be launched on April 21 at http://www.robochamps.com. RoboChamps was developed in conjunction with members of the partner community, including SimplySim, whose simulation environments are used in the competition.
“RoboChamps will allow users of all levels to experiment with Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008, while discovering the underlying technologies and solving real-world problems with simulated robots in immersive 3-D environments,” said Nicolas Dalmasso, CEO of SimplySim.
Microsoft Robotics Studio and Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 are available as a free download for use in noncommercial applications. Licensing details for commercial robot developers are available at http://www.microsoft.com/robotics.
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