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Microsoft is working on an “experimental” release of the Robot Operating System (ROS) for Windows. Microsoft’s goal with this move is to “bring the intelligent edge to robotics,” officials said on September 28, across home, education, commercial and industrial robots.
Microsoft has joined the ROS Industrial Consortium, which is focused on extending ROS to manufacturing for industrial robotic applications. Microsoft is working with Open Robotics and the ROS Industrial Consortium to bring ROS1 to Windows.
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ROS is a set of libraries and tools for building complex robots. (ROS on Linux already exists.) As of September 2018, Core ROS had been ported to Windows already. Microsoft’s goal is to allow developers to use Visual Studio plus various AI and cloud services, including Azure Cognitive Services, Windows Machine Learning, Azure IoT cloud, in building robots.
At ROSCon 2018, Microsoft demonstrated a Robotis Turtlebot 3 robot running the ROS release known as “Melodic Morenia.”
“The robot runs Windows 10 IoT Enterprise on an Intel Coffee Lake NUC using a new ROS node which leverages hardware accelerated Windows Machine Learning,” explained the company on its ros-win page. According to that page, Microsoft also showcased a ROS simulation environment running in Azure, and demonstrated a swarm of robots running in a virtual world connected to an orchestration system and controlled via Azure IoT Hub.
“Microsoft will host the Windows builds for ROS1 and shortly ROS2, as well as provide documentation, development and deployment solutions for Windows,” according to the page.
Recently, Microsoft has been relatively quiet about how and when it’s planning to participate in the robotics space. But there are various robotics projects and initiatives happening at the company.