Reached the mature version 4, Robotics Developer Studio is a free tool built by Microsoft used in simulation and control of robots. With a long list of components that can be simulated, RDS gives evidence of maturity and a complexity which is not found in the long list of other simulation platforms used in robotics. Once developed, an algorithm can be installed easily on another computer with a different configuration. This is not the case of a navigation algorithm which depends directly on the sensors and other hardware components.
Version 4 has support for a device not found in previous versions, namely the Kinect sensor. Since it appeared, the Kinect sensor successfully managed to remove some monotony that could have appeared in home-made robots. Simulated or controlled, such a sensor created a premise to develop very capable robots that can be used in various fields.
The collaboration between Microsoft and hardware manufacturers in the field of robotics began to take shape when the first 100% RDS compatible hardware surfaced, the Eddie platform from Parallax. Eddie is an interesting platform that has 3D vision, enabled by the Kinect sensor and can be controlled wirelessly.
Robotics Developer Studio has four main components used in control and simulation:
- CCR – Concurrency and Coordination Runtime
- DSS – Decentralized Software Services
- VPL – Visual Programming Language
- VSE – Visual Simulation Environment
Why is it better to use MRDS 4
The first and biggest advantage of using MRDS 4 is that you can build a graphic and software robot without the need for physical hardware. Once developed, robot can be modified and supplemented up to a version that meets all requirements without additional hardware costs. The RDS 4 is a complete and free tool 3D compatible which offers support for Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0, XNA 4.0 and Silverlight 4.0.
Installing the software
According to Microsoft there is a list of requirements that are necessary for proper operation of the simulation tool. The list for Windows 7 OS includes DirectX 9.0c, dual-core processor with at least 2 GHz, more than 10 GB disk space available, more than 2GB RAM memory and two or more USB 2.0 channels.
If these requirements are met, the next step is to install some free tools, MRDS compatible, available for Windows 7 32-bit or 64-bit OS.
- Install Visual C# Express available for free to write new services for RDS: http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/en-us/products/2010-editions/visual-csharp-express;
- Install Robotics Developer Studio 4:
- Click on Download button from here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=29081
- Follow the steps described;
- After the installation is completed you have to do a manual step: Go to Start Menu -> Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 4 and run “Build All Samples“. This will take a few minutes.