The Microsoft Robotics team has released a new software stack for controlling robots – RDS4 Beta. There are a couple of very exciting new additions in this beta:
You can see a lot more of the details at this Channel 9 video: http://channel9.msdn.com/posts/A-Look-At-Robotics-Developer-Studio-4-Beta
They are also interested in encouraging others to use this new software so there is now the Robotics @ Home Competition.
Do you have a cool idea for an @home robot?
Here’s your chance to show us what you’ve got. Describe that cool idea to us in a PPT, PDF or Word Doc and submit it. If your concept is picked, you could be one of 10 finalists who will be loaned a real robot that you can use to bring your concept to life. If you are chosen as one of the finalists, your second challenge will be to submit a video of your robot in action. A grand prize winner will be selected and awarded up to $10,000!
What do I do to enter?
What types of @home robot scenarios can I submit an entry for?
We have created three main categories for you to use as a guide for @home robot usage scenarios. You can submit as many entries for as many categories as you’d like, as long as each entry is unique – but only one entry may be selected to advance to Round 2 of the competition.
Consumer Usage Scenarios Examples : Gaming, Video, Music, Security, Productivity, Education, etc.
Human Robot Interaction Examples : Gestures, Speech, Behaviors, Skeletal Tracking, Face Detection, etc.
Autonomous Navigation Examples : Smart Drive, SLAM, Metric Maps, Obstacle Detection, etc.
This looks so promising until you realize the paradigm shift required to teach/learn VPL. It is not like Scratch which is a graphic version of a fairly common syntax programming language. A good VB programmer switching to VPL would not be starting from scratch (no pun) but it would definitely not be like switching to C# or RobotC. I kind of like VPL, it makes me think, but I am not sure I would want to take my high school kids down that road. Maybe next time a get a bunch of kids smarter than I am I will sic them on VPL and the virtual robot world. The $1000 price tag on the real robot is outside my $5 budget.