Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Microsoft Jumps Onto Robot Bandwagon

Microsoft will anounce today that it is launching a new effort to dominate the robot world.
They will offer a software platform that could provide a foundation operating environmant for robots.

Their motivation for the efforts,according to an announcement letter from Tandy Trower, General Manager, Microsoft Robotics Group,is, "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."

Their Robotics Studio software will include:

A scalable, extensible runtime architecture that can span a wide variety of hardware and devices.

A set of useful tools that make programming and debugging robot applications scenarios easier.

A set of useful technology libraries services samples to help developers get started with writing robot applications.

Will Robotics Studio do for robot development what Windows did for PC's?

Microsoft will also be funding the new Center for Innovative Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. CMU is the foremost university for robot research and engineering.

The director of the new center, Dr. Illah Nourbaksh, writes:
Innovation in robotics is difficult today because the software development costs are so high. People who have ideas for a new robot, or a new use for an existing robot, too often abandon the effort because they lack the specialized knowledge necessary for making hardware, software and sensors work together. If software development for robotics becomes less daunting, more inventors and businesses may be willing to test their ideas and perhaps generate (or create) innovative new robots or applications for robots.

The center will maintain a website for open source solutions and sharing using Micorsoft's Robotic Studio.

...UPDATE: There is lots of good information in two articles in the online version of Robot magazine, botmag.com.

Microsoft Robotics Studio


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