Microsoft Launches Robotics Developer Kit

by admin December 12, 2006 at 10:53 am

Microsoft is entering a new market it said has been held back by a lack of standards and uniformity: robotics.

The technology has been widely used for years for such applications as the assembly of automobiles and, more recently, consumer devices like the iRobot Roomba, an automated floor vacuum.

The challenge to achieving even broader use, according to Tandy Trower, general manager of the Microsoft Robotics Group, is similar to the early days of the PC industry. There’s no common platform, no common development environment, nothing that’s reusable from one project to the next.

That includes skills. Two similar sensor chips may require a totally different manner of programming, locking developers to specific pieces of hardware.

Trower said that in speaking with Sebastian Thrun, the Stanford professor who led the winning team in last year’s DARPA Grand Challenge race, most of the systems used in the Stanford vehicle had to be built from scratch.

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