Friday, April 11, 2008
Terminal Services, Silverlight, Microsoft Robotics Studio and Lego Mindstorms NXT
Narenda Wicaksono has made a video of a nice mix-up between Terminal Services, Silverlight, Microsoft Robotics Studio and Lego Mindstorms NXT.
Oh and I passed 70-631 with flying colors today.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Phobot, the phobic robot - Building instructions
Looks like building instructions will be posted around April 5th. I can't wait to start building!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Phobot, the phobic robot
A team of the University of Amsterdam have built a phobic robot, called Phobot, using LEGO Mindstorms NXT and an additional sensor.
While building a LEGO Mindstorms NXT robot a is not an earth-shattering event by itself, the amount of emotion and interaction the robot conveys is quite astonishing! I did a little test and showed my daughter a video of the robot. It told her the robot was afraid of big robots and needed assurance and confirmation in order to be brave enough to approach the big robot. "And oh look! Now it starts dancing! Isn't that cute?"
Well, she immediately asked me to build it overnight so that she could play with it in the morning, it was so cute!
I have contacted the team, they told me that they were quite overwhelmed by the media attention they had gotten. And who can blame them. After things calm down a bit they would look into sending the code and perhaps the building instructions, which they haven't gotten around to just yet. Ork, if you're reading this...?
Anyway, take a look at the site and video. Be warned, the video is in Dutch. 50 seconds into the video there is a good demo of the robot, which is self explanatory.
Update: Ork just contacted me, we should expect the code and building instructions to appear very soon! That's great news! Thanks Ork.
Friday, November 30, 2007
LEGO Mindstorms and Microsoft Robotics Studio
With the Robotics Framework Microsoft tries to establish a common platform for robotics. Right now, a lot of the hardware and software of a robot is specific for a device, say a robot arm. The robot arm itself needs to be accessed in a specific, non-standard way and the microcontroller (uC) controlling it has to be programmed, based on the type of uC and programming languages supported and preferred. This combination leads a highly compartmentalized environment, where exchange of parts and logic can only be accomplished at great costs.
In short, in the field of robotics is a shortage of standards and a common platform.
Microsoft compares this to the beginnings of the Personal Computer, where similar difficulties were encountered. This has been solved by the introduction of a common platform, the OS, where device manufacturers could write drivers to get their devices working on that platform and developers could write software for that same platform, controlling these devices. Also, because of that common platform, interchangeability of devices and software was improved significantly. For instance, if you need a new webcam, you just buy one at the shop, plug in the webcam and -in some cases- install the driver manually from cd if Windows doesn't recognize it.
Microsoft Robotics Studio is still in it's infant stages, but has already seen extensive use in the DARPA Challenge and is growing rapidly.
It is worth checking out Robotics Studio, if not for the robotics, perhaps the Concurrency and Coordination Runtime might interest you.It deals with a lot of issues also found in SOA architectures and could provide you with a pleasant environment to learn from.
So what about the LEGO Mindstorms NXT kit? I recently bought it and am looking forward to play with it! As closing statement, two links, one about a LEGO Mindstorms Warehouse project, where Mindstorms is used in combination with the Robotics Studio and Microsoft Biztalk(!) to build a warehouse to scale. Also a blog entry about the usage of Robotics Studio, with a bit of video.
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