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View Full Version : MS releases free tools for robots (inc. Parallax).



heater
05-21-2010, 03:43 PM
Edit: Inflammatory text removed. Title says all I need to.

spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-software/052010-microsoft-shifts-robotics-strategy-makes-robotics-studio-available-free (http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-software/052010-microsoft-shifts-robotics-strategy-makes-robotics-studio-available-free)


The story said...

...works best with the specific robot platforms it supports, including iRobot's Create, LEGO Mindstorms, CoroWare, Parallax, and others.

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For me, the past is not over yet.

Post Edited (heater) : 5/21/2010 6:15:19 PM GMT

Dr_Acula
05-21-2010, 04:03 PM
All your bases are belong to us!

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www.smarthome.viviti.com/propeller (http://www.smarthome.viviti.com/propeller)

HollyMinkowski
05-21-2010, 04:41 PM
That group of engineers at that site looks pretty happy and harmless.
They'd never create the first cylon, would they http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/wink.gif

http://spectrum.ieee.org/image/1592048

heater
05-21-2010, 05:04 PM
Who's to say we won't all be happy and smiling after we have been assimilated?
It's the harmless part the worries me just now:)

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For me, the past is not over yet.

TonyWaite
05-21-2010, 05:21 PM
I see the announcement yesterday of the first self-replicating synthetic bacterium:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/science_and_environment/10132762.stm

Just the *foreseeable* consequences could include the end of humanity!

T o n y

RossH
05-21-2010, 05:37 PM
@All,

Somehow, I don't think we need to worry just yet - can you really see the same company that thought "Vista" was a good idea competing in a market where small size and low power consumption actually matter?

Anyway, who wants a robot that takes 15 minutes to get going, or which (when it finally does get going) has to stop every few minutes to check it has been legally activated, or to download the latest security updates?

Ross.

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Catalina - a FREE C compiler for the Propeller - see Catalina (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=844004)

Rayman
05-21-2010, 06:15 PM
very interesting! They mentioned Parallax... I might have to check into this...

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My Prop Info&Apps: ·http://www.rayslogic.com/propeller/propeller.htm

My Prop Products:· http://www.rayslogic.com/Propeller/Products/Products.htm

heater
05-21-2010, 06:32 PM
Actually RossH that system has nothing to do with anything that runs on the robots but rather a simulation control environment. A seriously souped up RobotBasic.

Ray, be careful...rehabilitation is long and painful.

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For me, the past is not over yet.

StefanL38
05-21-2010, 08:06 PM
hm maybe we should talk about 12blocks in the microsoft robotic forums showing them how easy it is to use 12blocks (instead of this monster-packages called RDS)

best regards

Stefan

heater
05-21-2010, 08:09 PM
Excellent idea Stefan. Only I'm not going anywhere near the Microsoft robotic forum.

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For me, the past is not over yet.

sailman58
05-21-2010, 08:18 PM
Not interested until they make a version that runs on Linux!

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Ron aka sailman58

JonnyMac
05-21-2010, 08:25 PM
I, for one, am going to give it a try. Unlike so many other technology enthusiasts, I don't see Microsoft as an evil empire. Interesting to note that Windows is the only OS that Parallax chooses to support and develop tools for....

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Jon McPhalen
Hollywood, CA

Fxc2hh
05-21-2010, 08:40 PM
I think the whole Microsoft experience for me is not good.· The system registry has to go.· Every program can make changes to make my computer operate in a way that I didn't give permission.· Windows needs some memory protection so that I don't need to install anti-virus programs.· The idea of a microcontroller being taken over by a virus is not far away.

The patent trolls will be around trying to patent double clicking like they did until a UK judge told them they couldn't have a software patent on double clicking the mouse.· The patent trolls for another company tried to claim a patent that was·prior art·on·the Amiga 1000 and someone actually brought the Amiga 1000 into court.

http://www.osnews.com/story/23300/_My_Amiga_Killed_a_Troll_

I hope to switch to Linux on a new computer in the future.

KPR
05-21-2010, 08:40 PM
I switched to OSX to get away from Microsoft.. It ain't gonna happen in my home..

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I always have someone watching my back.

wjsteele
05-21-2010, 08:53 PM
Actually, guys, some of you know I do work for Microsoft. I'm not looking for flames here... I just would like to correctly state the facts. http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/wink.gif If you have any questions on RDS, I can help answer them for you... I've been working with it for years.

In fact, we've got a bunch of kids driving Ford Fiesta's from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) to the Maker Faire in San Fransicso using RDS along with other software they built into the Fiestas. They kids did all the work themselves with a little guidance from us and Ford. (Their site is here: www.facebook.com/ajthefiesta (http://www.facebook.com/ajthefiesta))

I've also demonstrated several robots from the Parallax BoeBot to the iRobot Create and Roombas and even to some very advanced custom "MER" (Martian Rover) concepts using the same basic software. It's very similar to Hanno's 12 blocks concepts with the Visual Programming Environment, except that you can create your own custom blocks as well and then re-use them on future robots. It's actually a pretty nice environment to develop the software in, from the standpoint that it allows you to segregate all your functionallity into "services" that can be accessed by any other service. For example, a Parallax Propeller can easily be mixed into the environment and can expose it functionallity through services to any other component in the system. RDS allows for a completly mixed environment in that respect, regardless of the hardware or software. I have a dozen robots based on the Propeller and the BS2s on various platforms.

In my opinion, the simulation environment is the coolest part. It's actually based on the PhysX engine from Nvidia and it allows you to actually construct a virtual copy of your robot to test before you actually cut metal. Including running all the software, etc.

And btw... we've always had Robotics Studio free since we introduced it in '07... it's just that we also had higher level products with higher (read corporate) pricing as well, which we eliminated. Contrary to some opinions, our plan isn't to take over the world, as some might think... we just want robots doing our hard work for us and that market needs a jump start. We, along with our competitors are all on the same page here... we want people to start building these robots, but there is the classic chicken and egg problem, so giving the software away to allow that jumpstart is what we're all doing.

I also highly recommend taking a look at the Robotics Operating System or "ROS," from Willow Garage (ros.org (http://ros.org)) as well as National Instruments Labview, which I've work with if you're interested in doing advanced robotics. In fact, I've worked with NI on several of the FIRST challenges where we've combined both NI's tools as well as RDS. It's pretty easy to intergrate these systems with the services infrastructures they use. (Note, Labivew is not free, ROS is.) Lastly, if you haven't seen it yet, Willow Garage's robot (willowgarage.com (http://willowgarage.com)) is one sweet platform!!!

Bill

Post Edited (wjsteele) : 5/21/2010 2:00:02 PM GMT

heater
05-21-2010, 09:03 PM
JonnyMac: "I don't see Microsoft as an evil empire."

You don't let me convince you:

JonnyMac: "Interesting to note that Windows is the only OS that Parallax chooses to support and develop tools for...."

I rest my case.

Actually I don't much care if Microsoft is evil or not. And I don't much care if the OS and other software is good or not.

What I do care about is this: Currently a huge proportion of the worlds people, businesses, governments and other organizations are dependent on the software products of a single company. For most that is company in a foreign country with no accountability at all.

This is a situation that I find completely bat (expletive) crazy. The world does not have its information infrastructure under it's control.

Never mind the endless and needless shoveling of money to Redmond.

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For me, the past is not over yet.

BradC
05-21-2010, 09:12 PM
JonnyMac said...
Interesting to note that Windows is the only OS that Parallax chooses to support and develop tools for....



Keep rubbing it in....

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"Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?"

Mike G
05-21-2010, 09:25 PM
I use Robotic Studio and like it. I especially like the way messaging is handled between services.... pretty slick.

JonnyMac
05-21-2010, 09:46 PM
BradC said...

JonnyMac said...
Interesting to note that Windows is the only OS that Parallax chooses to support and develop tools for....



Keep rubbing it in....


To be fair, I have -- on countless occassions -- encouraged Parallax to go cross-platform as I've always felt it would be good for their business.· That they refuse is very hard to understand.· In my opinion, the Arduino stinks on ice and the only reason it gained such traction is the cross-platform tool that let nearly anyone work with it.· Putting on my big fat actor's ego... I see BST (thank you for that!)·and my Propeller Platform (as well Nick's variant and accessories) as the Arduino killers! http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/tongue.gif

Note to Arduino fans: I'm just having a bit of fun... no need to start flaming me.·But if you do, I can take it!

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Jon McPhalen
Hollywood, CA

JonnyMac
05-21-2010, 09:53 PM
heater said...
JonnyMac: "I don't see Microsoft as an evil empire."

You don't let me convince you:

JonnyMac: "Interesting to note that Windows is the only OS that Parallax chooses to support and develop tools for...."

I rest my case.

Actually I don't much care if Microsoft is evil or not. And I don't much care if the OS and other software is good or not.

What I do care about is this: Currently a huge proportion of the worlds people, businesses, governments and other organizations are dependent on the software products of a single company. For most that is company in a foreign country with no accountability at all.

This is a situation that I find completely bat (expletive) crazy. The world does not have its information infrastructure under it's control.

Never mind the endless and needless shoveling of money to Redmond.


Socialists tend to complain about successful capitalists -- it's pointless.· Nobody is forced to buy anything from Microsoft; there are other OSes and lots of software for all of them.· Even though I choose Windows, I choose to use OpenOffice.org -- it's free (thanks!) and works really well, better than MSOffice in my opinion.· And if I ever choose to switch to Linux or Mac, I don't have to relearn that software; that's a nice bonus.

Parallax chooses to develop for Windows.· Being a Windows user this doesn't bother me.· Being a captialist, however, I see it in their best financial interest to develop a tool -- that they give away, anyway -- to run on as many platforms as possible (this will drive hardware sales).· As Brad has shown (and thank Goodness for him), it can be done.


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Jon McPhalen
Hollywood, CA

bill190
05-21-2010, 09:55 PM
I spent half a year developing a database system for Microsoft Access. It worked great...

Then Microsoft went and changed all their objects with the next release of Access, then my nifty database program no longer worked. I had to do·a ton of work to get things working·like they were.

Then with the release after that, it was impossible to get anything to work without major changes. We abandoned Access at that point. You can't have businesses using this stuff and suddenly have everything stop working! What if this was a payroll database? "Sorry we can't issue pay checks, the new release broke everything. It will take 4 months to reprogram!"

And this has happened over and over and over. Each time I install a new Microsoft OS, there are changes made which I and a ton of other people don't want.

The last straw was with·IE 8. The favorites folders do not collapse anymore. The attitude of Microsoft was "You will get used to it".

I think I will get used to Google Chrome and Open office from now on!

Microsoft has done wonderful things in the past. Especially with standardizing things like File/Print. Learn one application and you have learned them all. But they are out of touch with what people want. They don't seem to listen to their customers anymore. Fix the favorites folders so they collapse in IE8! Zillions of people on the internet want this.

Here are tons of people with this problem...

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&q=ie8+favorites+folders+collapse&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&fp=e566b05060ea9f2e

Chris Savage
05-21-2010, 10:07 PM
Hey everyone,

As a moderator there are two types of debates I have always tried to keep off these forums: Politics and Religion. To date those are the two things that can be so personal that discussion moves from opinion, to debate, to all-out flame war within one page of replies. The sad thing is that sometimes O/S choices (and even PC manufacturer choices) are sometimes at this level of devotion by some and it can lead to the afore-mentioned flame-wars. If we could try to limit the discussion to how it pertains to the forums (difficult since the thread is technically off-topic) we may all be able to gain something from it (besides a headache).· http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/wink.gif

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Chris Savage

Parallax Engineering
·

jmspaggi
05-21-2010, 11:29 PM
Do you think they will do a Linux version like for BST? ;) Or will we be stuck with Windows again ;) Anyway, I don't think it's that tool which will make me move back to windows, even with both for free. there is so many sensors/plateforms/controllers/etc. in the market, and usually so many closed proprietary format on Microsoft side that I don't really see how this can work in the futur.

JM

PS: Sorry Chris, just saw your message after I posted mine.

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Linux? There is worst, but it's more expensive.

Message Edité (jmspaggi) : 5/21/2010 4:34:04 PM GMT

CannibalRobotics
05-21-2010, 11:44 PM
I'm surprised the forum police have not moved this thread.
BUT, since I'm here anyway. They have been trying to sell that robotics platform idea for about 5 or 6 years now. I guess no one has bought it so they are going to try to give it away. I am not worried though, this is a world they will never get their head around. They have enough problems writing reliable tools to support a single processor type. It's going to be entertaining to try to watch them support all of those other processors. I'll not be their guinea pig though.

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Signature space for rent!
Send $1 to CannibalRobotics.com.

Madness
05-21-2010, 11:48 PM
Please allow a moment of lighthearted relief.



How does Bill Gates change a lightbulb?

He doesn't, he redefines the standard to darkness.

How does a programmer change a lighbulb?

He doesn't, it's a hardware problem.

heater
05-22-2010, 12:45 AM
Chris, OK, I declare a truce.

Sorry I opened this with such an inflammatory title and first post. I did not mean to be a "heater" in such a serious way. Perhaps I should change the title or you can delete the whole thing.

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For me, the past is not over yet.

wjsteele
05-22-2010, 01:01 AM
Personally, I'd really like to get this back on topic. Using the Parallax Propeller with MS Robotics Studio (or even the BS2) is quite easy to do. Developing a platform that is services based, like MSR allows you to really expand the capabilities of your robot to beyond the bot hardware itself.

Here's an example of something we did a while back. I saw an example of someone using a triangulation technique to locate their robot in another thread. We did something similar using a web camera that actually watched the robot and could report it's position back to a "controller" via a MSR Service. From there, the robot could query that service and determine it's position. In effect, we had a "distributed robot" that could use any number of services to determine it's location.

You can even take this to an over the wire (or wireless) scenerio where parts of the "robot" are now all over the world and all communicating together to perform a certain task, like having someone control the robot via a web interface. Since a web page is nothing but a service call, the user could simply make "requests" against the move service of the robot to control it.

With the propeller, we can take that even further. Since the propeller is a multi-core device, you can have multiple service endpoints exposed to allow various different types of processing simultaneously. This would allow us to have a pseudo interrupt driven system that can detect if the remote user is trying to drive the robot off a set of stairs and prevent it, for example.

Actually, the scenerios I've described are quite simplistic, but do point out the possibilities of both platforms. I would encourage you to keep an open mind about these types of technologies, they can be put together to create some really interesting and unique solutions, regarless of who's platform you choose.

Bill

heater
05-22-2010, 01:10 AM
wjsteele: OK. I'm going to change the thread title "MS releases tools for robots (inc Parallax)".

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For me, the past is not over yet.

Sapieha
05-22-2010, 01:29 AM
Hi heater.

Nice title. And thanks for pointing that to us.

Hi wjsteele.

As I'm are interesting in all types of "Computer control" all programs that can help me to understand "Computer control (Robotics and other types)" mechanics and artificial like"
are very welcome.
It is no mater what platform them run on "Bare them work as expected". What is important is THAT program will not stagnate (that many other programs from different program manufactures".


Regards
Christoffer J

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Nothing is impossible, there are only different degrees of difficulty.
For every stupid question there is at least one intelligent answer.
Don't guess - ask instead.
If you don't ask you won't know.
If your gonna construct something, make it·as simple as·possible yet as versatile as posible.


Sapieha

rjo_
05-22-2010, 01:31 AM
Bill,

I literally never used a Windows machine until I had to in order to use the PropTool. The last time I looked... Bill Gates had given away far more money that he kept. Microsoft has had a far greater impact on the way we live than the space program has.

Flaming is a form of humor that everyone understands and no-one takes seriously. We all get frustrated... Microsoft seems so big... it seems like a safe target for everyone's frustrations. We tend to forget that there are people there... really good ones.

BradC,

I happily used bst, etc. before my Mac's power supply took a dump and I'm now Windows only for quite a while:)
There is going to be a market for the source code... as long as people know that it is there. When the Prop hits the major industrial markets(and it will:) ... there are going to be all manner of companies, who will want to take your code and modify it... or have you do it for them. So, hang in there. It is spectacular work.... just slightly ahead of its time:)

Rich

JonnyMac
05-22-2010, 01:39 AM
@wsjsteele,

Despite my poking fun, I'm actually happy for this thread because I have a growing interest in Propeller-based robotics and MSRS looks really neat. Can you recommend a good tutorials site for those of us who would go into MSRS with no experience (in that product, that is -- I'm pretty good with the Propeller!).

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Jon McPhalen
Hollywood, CA

wjsteele
05-22-2010, 02:49 AM
There are three sites I recommend.

One, Microsoft's Robotics page at www.microsoft.com/robotics (http://www.microsoft.com/robotics)
Two, Microsoft's MSDN Page on Robot Development at msdn.microsoft.com/library/cc998486 (http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/cc998486)
Lastly, some site I found that has a bunch of videos at the bottom at idealprogrammer.com/videos/microsoft-robotics-development-studio-15-free-video-tutorials/ (http://idealprogrammer.com/videos/microsoft-robotics-development-studio-15-free-video-tutorials/) (Scroll all the way to the bottom for the list.)

I'd love to help someone out if they're interested in developing services for the propeller and possibly submitting them to the Obex.

Bill

SRLM
05-22-2010, 04:32 AM
Some of the replies in this thread are disturbing. You're judging "microsoft" the whole as "microsoft the OS", maybe even "microsoft Vista".

Did anybody who complained about the robotics studio actually try it? Somehow, I doubt it...

It may or may not have all the problems that seem to be expected, but it's unfair to automatically judge it based where it came from. That tactic, when applied to people, is called racist.

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Powered by enthusiasm

RossH
05-22-2010, 06:48 AM
@SLRM

I guess my oriignal remarks seemed flippant, and I will be more careful in future (apologies to wjsteele in particular). As heater pointed out, RDS is not actually a product that can be used to build an autonomous robot - it is a product intended to simulate or control robots using Windows.

So our fears about world domination from Redmond are probably completely unfounded .... Hey, hang on a minute ... why is my mouse moving by itself? ... Help! It's got it's cord wrapped around my neck ... AARRGGHH!!!

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Catalina - a FREE C compiler for the Propeller - see Catalina (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=844004)

ElectricAye
05-22-2010, 10:04 AM
TonyWaite said...
I see the announcement yesterday of the first self-replicating synthetic bacterium:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/science_and_environment/10132762.stm
....


FWIW...

This is really not that big of a deal. It's just an extension of genetic engineering that's already been going on. What makes this claim somewhat bogus is that there are tons of activities that take place between the genetic code and the final function(s). The processes that take place in the cell after the DNA is "read" are where most of the complexity lies and these guys didn't make any of that, they just hijacked it by sticking their codes in an already existing cell. In fact, biologists are still relatively clueless about the enormously complex activities that take place after the DNA code is "read". The codes are read, edited, sometimes repeated, sometimes spliced, altered in amazing ways often in response to environmental stresses, signals, quorum sensing, etc. Between the DNA code and the final functions, there's a whole lot of biochemical voodoo goes on, the dolls of which nobody yet has a good handle on.


en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proteomics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proteomics)