At the RoboDevelopment Conference & Expo, Microsoft announced the general availability of Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008, the newest version of its RDS robotics programming platform.
Tandy Trower, general manager of the Microsoft Robotics Group, discussed the Microsoft robotics platform with eWEEK at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in October, hinting at the pending release of an updated Microsoft RDS.
Microsoft released the new version of Microsoft RDS on Nov. 17, at the RoboDevelopment Conference in Santa Clara, Calif. The release includes a simple programming model to support building asynchronous applications, a set of visual authoring and simulation tools to aid in application development, and tutorials and sample code to help developers get started.
This is the third major release of Microsoft RDS and builds upon its previous versions, which have received support throughout the robotics community, including students, researchers and commercial developers, Trower said. More than 250,000 copies of Microsoft RDS have been downloaded and more than 60 hardware and software companies support or use the platform as a part of their products.
“This latest release is a demonstration of Microsoft’s continued commitment and investment in supporting the emerging new robotics community,” Trower said. “We have used the very positive response to enhance what we offer, in hopes that it will continue to provide a common ground and catalyst for the future of personal robotics.”
Microsoft RDS 2008 includes enhancements such as increased run-time performance, up to three times faster; improvements to the VPL (Visual Programming Language) tool; improvements to the VSE (Visual Simulation Environment) tool; and greater deployment flexibility in the way of support for both Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Studio 2008, improved support for running VPL and VSE on 64-bit Windows platforms, and new support for custom message transports.
More from the Robotics Community
Trower said a core objective of Microsoft RDS is to provide a common ground that creates opportunities for greater contributions and participation from across the diverse community of robotics developers and hardware and software vendors.
For instance, ABB, a leading supplier of industrial robots and robotics software, is among the first companies to take advantage of this opportunity by releasing a connectivity package called ACM (ABB Connect to Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008). ACM creates a virtual environment for educational purposes, with the goal of teaching robotics students at universities to design and implement virtual robotics. The package also will contain all the services needed to build a complete virtual robot controller, ABB said.
“Generation Y students approach their education in a unique manner, based on intuition and innovation. ABB Connect gives these students tools to experiment with creative robot designs in a virtual world,” said Bertil Thorvaldsson, product manager for ABB. “This is the beginning of a very exciting future for robotics. We’re eager to see what students create and to be working with Microsoft in developing this new frontier.”
Microsoft said the latest release of Microsoft RDS also offers improved licensing options by replacing its noncommercial and commercial licenses with three editions: a Standard Edition for professional developers, an Academic Edition for students and educational researchers, and an Express Edition for hobbyists and casual users. While with previous versions the user was allowed to distribute only 200 copies of the CCR (Concurrency and Coordination Runtime) and DSS (Decentralized Software Services) run-times, each license of the new Standard and Academic editions permits the user to distribute an unlimited number of copies of the CCR and DSS run-times, Trower said.
Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 Standard Edition is available for $499.95 at http://www.microsoft.com/robotics, or from Microsoft’s Volume Licensing program starting in February 2009. Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 Express Edition will be available for no charge and downloadable from the same site. More information about the release and distribution of Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 Academic Edition is also available at the same site.