Microsoft Unveils Robotics Studio - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Unveils Robotics Studio

The early release targets academic, hobbyist, and commercial developers with a toolset for building applications that can run on a variety of robotics computing platforms.

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday launched a technology preview of Robotics Studio, a Windows-based development environment for creating robotic applications.

The early release targets academic, hobbyist and commercial developers with a toolset for building applications that can run on a variety of robotics computing platforms, the company said. Early partners include the LEGO Group.

"We've reached out to a broad range of leading robotics companies and academics early on in the development process and are thrilled with the positive response from the community," Tandy Trower, general manager of the Microsoft Robotics Group, said in a statement.

Key features in Robotics Studio include a visual programming tool that makes it easy to create and debug robot applications, the company said. The tools also allow users to interact with robots through Web-based or Windows-based interfaces, or simulate robotic applications using realistic 3-D models. The latter feature is powered with technology licensed from AGEIA.

Robotics Studio's programming model can be applied for a variety of robot hardware platforms, and third parties can also extend the functionality of the product by providing additional libraries and services.

Both remote PC-based and autonomous robot-based execution scenarios can be developed using programming languages found in Microsoft Visual Studio and Microsoft Visual Studio Express, JScript and Microsoft IronPython 1.0 Beta 1. Third party languages can also be used if they conform to the toolset's services-oriented, message-based architecture.

Joe Wilcox, analyst for JupiterResearch, said Microsoft appears to be interested in the growing market for robotics devices in the home, which is driving the need for operating systems and development tools.

"It's just too bad that, like other Microsoft stuff, to get there you've got to go the Windows way or the highway," Wilcox said in his blog.

Microsoft unveiled the development environment at the RoboBusiness Conference and Exposition in Pittsburgh, Penn. The toolset is available for download through the company's developer Web site.

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