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Microsoft Ships Robotics SDK

Microsoft announced it is shipping the released version 1 of its Microsoft Robotics Studio development environment for creating robotic software for a wide variety of hardware platforms.

In addition, the company introduced a third-party partner program featuring Robotics Studio-enabled applications, services and robots from independent software vendors, service providers, hardware component vendors and robot manufacturers. The company said that more than 30 third-party firms have promised to support the robotics development and runtime platform.

Robotics Studio was initially released as a community technology preview (CTP) at the RoboBusiness Conference and Exposition 2006 in Pittsburgh last June.

According to statements posted online by Microsoft, Robotics Studio is an end-to-end, scalable and extensible robotics development platform. It includes a visual programming language that enables nonprogrammers to program robots using a drag-and-drop environment, a 3-D tool that simulates robotics applications in physics-based virtual environments, using the PhysX engine which Microsoft licensed from AGEIA Technologies, and a lightweight, services-oriented runtime that enables applications to communicate with a wide variety of hardware.

Developers can create robotics applications using a variety of programming languages, including those in Visual Studio and Visual Studio Express languages, including Visual C# and Visual Basic, as well as Microsoft IronPython. Third-party languages that support the Microsoft Robotics Studio services-based architecture are also supported, the company said.

The product is compatible with applications, services and robots from CoroWare, fischertechnik, iRobot, KUKA Robot Group, Larsen & Toubro InfoTech, the LEGO Group, Lynxmotion, Parallax., Phidgets., RoboDynamics, Robosoft, RoboticsConnection, Senseta, Sharp Logic, Surveyor, and WhiteBox Robotics.

Companies that have joined the Microsoft Robotics Studio Partner Program include Braintech, Camelot Robotics, Cerebellum, ED Co., Graupner, Hanulkid Co., InTouch Health, JADI, LG CNS, MicroInfinity, Mostitech, RE2, RidgeSoftm Robo3, SRI, VIA Technologies, and Yujin Robot.

Non-commercial users can obtain the software developers kit at no charge. Commercial users can purchase Microsoft Robotics Studio 1.0 for $399.

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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