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Microsoft Ships Robotics Studio CTP

At the RoboBusiness Conference and Exposition 2006 in Pittsburgh this week, Microsoft announced it is shipping the Community Technology Preview (CTP) of its Windows-based robotics development platform.

Dubbed Microsoft Robotics Studio, the package provides an "end-to-end robotics development platform," the company said in a prepared statement.

The package features a set of tools for programming and debugging robot applications scenarios, including a high-quality visual simulation environment that uses physics supplied by the Ageia Technologies PhysX engine.

Robotics Studio also includes a scalable, extensible runtime architecture that can support a wide variety of hardware and devices. The programming interface can be used to address robots using 8-bit or 16-bit processors as well as 32-bit systems with multi-core processors and devices from simple touch sensors to laser distance-finding devices, according to Microsoft's statements.

It also comes with a lightweight services-oriented runtime. "Using a .NET-based concurrency library, it makes asynchronous application development simple...[including] accessing the state of a robot's sensors and actuators with a Web browser," the statements said.

Third parties can also extend the functionality of the platform by building additional libraries and services.

Both remote (PC-based) and autonomous (robot-based) execution scenarios can be developed using a selection of programming languages, including those in Visual Studio and Visual Studio Express languages. These include Visual C# and Visual Basic .NET, JScript and Microsoft IronPython 1.0 Beta 1, and third-party languages that conform to its services-based architecture, the company said.

It also provides a set of technology libraries services samples to help developers get started writing robot applications using Robotics Studio.

For more information on Robotics Studio, go here.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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