Taking a look back at the recent past in the robotics industry reflects a period full of promise, excitement, anticipation, and rapid evolution. So much movement has happened in the right direction; we've watched closely as robotics technology has begun to transition along the path from a big, expensive, specialized, industrial level towards a future of a friendly, service-oriented, home and personal level, where everyone has the potential to use and benefit from this technology. But putting this positive progress aside for a moment, it's critical to the future sustainability and success of the industry that we keep working to expand the reach of our robotics community to a greater scale.

Just consider the huge potential of consumer robotics, for one example -- an area that's ripe for innovation and for building compelling new scenarios and businesses. In this consumer space, we've learned that best enabling these opportunities isn't really about sophisticated and expensive hardware, it's about the software stack and user experiences. We're building our business to focus first and foremost on positive user experiences -- and by exploring innovations such as Natural User Interfaces (NUI) and the cloud, we want to help you in the robotics community build the software stack that, with your imagination and ingenuity, will lead to the new and innovative robotics scenarios of the future.

But for the robotics market overall to reach a tipping point of sustainable scale, we're going to need more software that can help our community to create a broad and relevant range of scenarios for consumers. It doesn't matter if you're a hobbyist, academic or working in the commercial space -- you're going to need a common platform to build these new applications and scenarios.

Well, we heard the community demand for such a platform clearly, which is why we developed Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio, which gives developers a common framework for development. It's already been behind the creation of scenarios like exploring "what's next" for in-car connectivity applications that will be on display at this year's Maker Faire, built by Ford and University of Michigan students as part of the "American Journey 2.0" project. We're so excited about the implications of this collaboration, both for the future of robotics development as well as for offering a window into how bright young developers are using our software in unexpected new ways.

And today, we're even more excited to announce the availability of the Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 R3 (Microsoft RDS). What's new?

  • Microsoft RDS is now offered free of charge as a download at http://www.microsoft.com/robotics/.
  • Microsoft RDS is now available as a single edition -- containing all of the functionality of the previous Standard Edition at no cost.
  • New features in Microsoft RDS 2008 R3 include added support for Visual Studio 2010 and two additional simulation environments (Multi-level House and Factory).
  • Additional samples have been made available on CodePlex, including Sumo and Soccer simulations. By making source code available on CodePlex, the community can modify and extend the Microsoft RDS platform.

Other new updates/changes include:

  • The CCR & DSS Toolkit has been merged into RDS 2008 R3
    • CCR & DSS will remain a core component of RDS
    • CCR & DSS can be obtained by installing the full RDS package
  • R3 is no longer compatible with Compact Framework (CF) development
  • Samples for languages other than C# have been moved to CodePlex.

 

Whether you're a hobbyist, academic or commercial customer, or just curious about developing robotics applications, Microsoft RDS 2008 R3 gives you everything you need to easily create robotics applications across a wide variety of different hardware.

By offering this software free of charge, we're hoping to help push the robotics market towards the sustainable scale I mentioned earlier -- putting Microsoft RDS in the hands of as many developers as possible to innovate and experiment with. We're enthusiastic to see what developers around the world, of all backgrounds and levels of knowledge, will bring to the table using Microsoft RDS in the months to come.


-- Stathis Papaefstathiou, General Manager, Microsoft Robotics