Microsoft Robotics Studio adds support for Windows CE, powers a simulation soccer competition, and sees continuing broad adoption across hobbyist, academic and commercial segments.
"We're constantly seeking ways to improve the product through new features and provide a catalyst to academic, hobbyist and commercial segments," said Tandy Trower, general manager of the Microsoft Robotics Group at Microsoft.
Microsoft Robotics Studio 1.5 includes improvements to its visual programming language and 3-D real-world-physics-based visual simulation environment, built on the AGEIA Technologies Inc.-based PhysX engine. New services have also been added, including support for vision and speech recognition, expanded documentation and a new editor that makes it easier to configure and target software services for robotics platforms.
Microsoft Sponsors RoboCup 2007 and Delivers 3-D Soccer Simulation Competition
Teams competing in RoboCup 2007, an international robotics competition, experienced these improvements firsthand by participating in a Microsoft- sponsored tournament of simulated soccer matches. Powering the competition was a new robot soccer simulation, which includes a 3-D simulated soccer field and scoring services, as well as support that enables different simulated robots to be configured as players. The services are also available to non-Robocup participants at http://www.microsoft.com/robotics. A compatible simulated robot player called robuDOG, from Robosoft, is also available for download from the Robosoft Web site at http://www.robosoft.com, enabling contestants to play virtual soccer with four-legged robots in a realistic 3-D environment. Robosoft also previewed its hardware-based robuDOG robot, and the services used in simulation can be deployed directly on this new robot. The soccer simulation featured at RoboCup 2007 joins a robot sumo simulation also released today, which offers participants an opportunity to create and program simulated robots in a sumo wrestling competition.
Microsoft Broadens Reach to Diverse Robotics Markets
Microsoft Robotics Studio continues to be adopted in the broader robotics academic market. For instance KUKA Roboter GmbH, a leading vendor in the robotics industry, announced the availability of its KUKA Educational Framework software, which teaches students how to calculate and orchestrate robot arm motions, and perform autonomous task solutions.
"We are excited to release our KUKA Educational Framework based on Microsoft Robotics Studio," said Bernd Liepert, CEO of KUKA Roboter. "This helps us extend the reach of our robots into the academic and research community, using a common software base."
In addition, Microsoft Robotics Studio is being used by many academic institutions, including Princeton University, which will use it to power its entry in this year's DARPA Grand Challenge robotics competition, where teams will navigate driverless automobiles autonomously through a mock urban environment; the University of Texas, which is applying the software to support advanced control of robot manipulators; the University of Washington Biorobotics Lab, which is using it in the development of software for its human-assistive robot research; and the University of California, Merced, which is building models for Microsoft Robotics Studio to support urban search and rescue multirobot simulation.
Commercial adoption of Microsoft Robotics Studio continues to grow. These companies join more than 30 companies already participating in the Microsoft Robotics Studio Partner Program since the 1.0 launch in December 2006: ALLmotion Inc., Diversity Associates Ltd., Element Products Inc., Energid Technologies Corp., Hokuyo Automation Co. Ltd., ICOP Technology Corp., Microbot Co. Ltd., Roborealm, Scatterweb GmbH, Segway Inc. and Skilligent LLC. Support from these third parties expands the breadth of Microsoft Robotics Studio-compliant hardware as well as software libraries in areas such as vision, mapping, localization and learning.
To foster greater interoperability across all industry segments, Microsoft has placed the Decentralized Software Services Protocol (DSSP) used in Microsoft Robotics Studio under its Open Specification Promise. This means that the Microsoft patents for the services-oriented protocol specification may be used by anyone in the world, at no cost, and for any type of development including free software, open source, academic, or commercial, enabling interoperability among a wide variety of devices and applications. More information about the Open Specification Promise can be found online at http://www.microsoft.com/interop/osp.
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