Microsoft has announced general availability of its Robotics Developer Studio 2008 (Microsoft RDS), the newest version of its robotics programming platform. Microsoft RDS 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.
The Robotics Developer Studio 2008 includes enhancements such as:
- Increased runtime performance. Performance is improved 1.5 to three times faster in message throughput between services, and services now load two times faster. Developers can now also define more specific message communication between services, reducing network utilization and optimizing the processing of data. Together, these improvements will result in faster applications and more efficient use of processor performance.
- Improvements to the Visual Programming Language (VPL) tool. The simple drag-and-drop-based visual programming tool now includes a simple method for defining and configuring distributed applications, making it easier to create applications that can run across networked devices. Developers also will have greater flexibility when compiling their programs.
- Improvements to the Visual Simulation Environment (VSE) tool. VSE now includes the ability to record and play back simulations, which allows for easier review of simulation experiences. VSE also adds a new floor-plan editor to simplify the definition of interior structures, and three new sample simulation environments (apartment, outdoor and urban) that enable developers to better test their robot applications. Another new feature is support for importing content from DS SolidWorks 3-D computer-aided design (CAD) software and Microsoft trueSpace 3-D modeling software, which make it easier for developers to create their own simulated models and environments.
- Greater development flexibility. This new release provides support for both Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Studio 2008, which makes it accessible to a broad audience of developers. Improved support for running VPL and VSE on 64-bit Windows platforms provides more flexible installation options. New support for custom message transports increases development choices.
A primary 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. 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 known as ABB Connect to Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 (ACM). 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.
The new release also offers improved licensing options by replacing its formal noncommercial and commercial licenses with three editions:
- A Standard Edition for professional developers.
- An Academic Edition for students and educational researchers.
- An Express Edition for hobbyists and casual users.
While with previous versions, the user was allowed to distribute only 200 copies of the Concurrency and Coordination Runtime (CCR) and Decentralized Software Services (DSS) runtimes, each license of the new Standard and Academic editions permits the user to distribute an unlimited number of copies of the CCR and DSS runtimes.