Microsoft Releases Robotics Developer Studio 2008 CTP

Microsoft today released the first community technology preview (CTP) of Robotics Developer Studio 2008 at the RoboBusiness conference in Pittsburgh. The product is the third version of the robotics programming platform, which previously had been called the Microsoft Robotics Studio.

Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 (RDS 08) significantly improves runtime performance, from 150 percent to 300 percent, according to Microsoft General Manager of the Robotics Group Tandy Trower. "It's not the monolithic, single-threaded model that people have normally used for robots. Instead this is a more asynchronous, distributed approach to programming," Trower said.

Trower said RDS 08 will enable developers to write code and routines that rely on asynchronous message passing, providing for a more distributed runtime environment and expanding the potential for future robots to process and act on large volumes of information. According to a Microsoft release, RDS 08 adds support for distributed language integrated queries (LINQ), intended to enable "advanced filtering and inline processing of sensor data at the source."

According to Trower, the distributed application architecture will make it easier for robotic applications to access processing from remote sources, enabling a simple machine to act on complex processing done on a corporate server or in the cloud.

"You can have cooperative robotic interaction, because the robots can easily share information among each other," Trower said.

The RDS 08 CTP also provides improved sensor interaction, enabling sensors to send granular state change information to the processor, rather than requiring code that constantly checks sensor status.

Microsoft Robotics Studio was launched in 2006 to give developers a way to write high-level robotics applications without having to dive down into the minutiae of hundreds of different sensor and motor interfaces.

Ultimately, Trower said, the tools and techniques developers in the Robotics group could very well end up in mainstream development products at Microsoft.

"You will see that this year the core pieces -- the CCR, which is our concurrency coordination runtime and our DSS services, which is its companion that provides the concurrency model across the distributed network -- these pieces we actually will separate out and offer independently as well as in the toolkit, so that people who are interested in using this for [other] applications will be able to do that," Trower said.

"You will also see them positioned as part of the development tools family outside of the robotics area by our marketing team in our developer tools marketing group."

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.