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Microsoft releases Robotics Studio CTP

Microsoft is getting into Robotics with Microsoft Robotics Studio CTP 1. [Link via Robert Scoble]

It’s great to see Microsoft join this active community of enthusiasts. I just downloaded the CTP, but unfortunately I discovered too late that it requires VS 2005, so I’ll have to try it again later on my other system. This one only has VS 2003.

The studio introduces a runtime environment that is geared towards interacting and controlling multiple devices and sensors at once. From the Robotics site:

“Microsoft Robotics Studio Runtime provides a service oriented architecture which combines key aspects of traditional Web-based architecture with pieces from Web Services to provide a highly flexible and lightweight, distributed application model.”

Nicely done.

The Studio also includes services from some existing third-party hardware and a simulator. I guess the simulator–if it can be used for visualization–might be interesting, but a simulator in itself misses all the “fun” stuff in Robotics: the noisy data, reflections, slippage, and so on. The real challenge is in the real world. But it’s nice to have it anyway. Like I mentioned earlier I haven’t successfully installed the Studio yet, so maybe it supports visualizing sensed data and the like. I look forward to checking it out.

The Robotics Group manager, Tandy Trower, posts his team’s philosophy here.

“Robotics has long been a technology area that has captured the attention and expectations of many. We think robotics is poised to take off rapidly, and there are solid indications that this is true! With component hardware costs coming down and computational capabilities increasing, the robotics industry appears to have the right conditions to really grow quickly.”

The Robotics community has never been lacking for optimism. 🙂 In fact, there have been many such statements over the years. However, things are different today. There is progress. And most importantly things are becoming more practical. That’s the key.

By the way, the Robotics team even has a blog. Check it out here.

A Channel9 interview is here..

Update: I got the Robotics Studio CTP installed and played with the Robotics Simulation Visualizer a bit. It took me a few minutes to read through things and figure out what to do. The first step is to launch the Robotics Studio Command Prompt. From it you can type the statement:

bindsshost /p:50000 /manifest:”configSimulationTutorial1.xml”

This will cause the simuilation window to appear. You can also browse the services involved using your browser by navigating to the URI: http://localhost:50000.

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