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Microsoft Bringing Robot OS to Windows

Microsoft is working to bring the Linux-based Robot Operating System (ROS) to Windows.

To that end, it joined the open source ROS Industrial Consortium and is working with the Open Robotics organization with a focus on industrial robotics systems, Microsoft announced on Friday. Microsoft also released ROS1, an experimental version of the Windows OS, as announced at the ROSCon 2018 event last week. Windows ROS1 is based on the Windows 10 IoT Enterprise edition.

Microsoft is promising to support Windows ROS with Visual Studio integrated development environment tooling. It's also adding connections to various Azure services, including Cognitive Services, Machine Learning and IoT. In particular, it's integrating ROS with Azure IoT Hub, which is used for the remote management of systems.

Here's how Microsoft's announcement described that effort:

Microsoft is also showcasing a ROS simulation environment running in Azure. It demonstrates a swarm of robots running in a virtual world connected to an orchestration system and controlled via Azure IoT Hub.

At ROSCon 2018, Microsoft demonstrated a Robotis TurtleBot 3 running the ROS Melodic Morenia version, which is based on Windows 10 IoT Enterprise. It's a small demo robot on wheels that used Intel's Next Unit of Computing small form factor PC with an Intel Coffee Lake processor.

Melodic Morenia is the 12th ROC release, but it's previously been based on Linux OSes, such as Ubuntu Artful and Bionic, as well as Debian Stretch.

Microsoft is planning to "host the Windows build for ROS1 and shortly ROS2," along with documentation, according to the announcement, although the timing wasn't described. Windows ROS is a Microsoft Azure DevOps project.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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