In this year's January edition of Scientific American, Bill Gates predicted a "Robot in Every Home" after having told Tandy Trower "to go on an extended fact-finding mission and to speak with people across the robotics community". As a result, Microsoft launched their "Robotics Studio" without losing a split second. With a team of only 12 people they've been developing the tools needed to program and simulate today's robotic platforms from the critical real-time interfaces, to the kinematics and high level-behaviors. It took less than two years to see the Microsoft Robotics Studio surface in events such as Robocup, the Darpa urban challenge , the Sumo robot competition and the international autonomous underwater vehicle competition.
Spurred on by the resemblance between the robotics community today and the one of PCs 30 years ago, the MS Robotics Studio has increased the pressure on Player, Webots, Gostai and Evolution Robotics - however, for now the jury on tomorrow's gold standard in robotics is still out.
To get an idea of what the Microsoft robotics studio is all about, here are a couple of it's main ingredients:
- Physics-based 3D simulator using AGEIA PhysX Technology.
- Visual programming language
- Hardware interfaces for robots such as the iRobot Create, LEGO MINDSTORMS, MobileRobots Pioneer P3DX and others.
- Concurrency and coordination runtime (CCR)
- Decentralized software services (DSS)