Microsoft Robotics @Home contest

Microsoft is sponsoring a robotics design contest known as Robotics @Home. They write:

Here’s your chance to show us what you’ve got. Describe that cool idea to us in a PPT, PDF or Word Doc and submit it. If your concept is picked, you could be one of 10 finalists to receive a real robot that you can use to bring your concept to life. If you are chosen as one of the finalists, your second challenge will be to submit a video of your robot in action. A grand prize winner will be selected and awarded up to $10,000!

You can read the contest rules and details at the contest website.

This contest involves using the Microsoft® Robotics Developer Studio 4 Beta software which is a freely available .NET-based programming environment for building robotics applications by both professional and non-professional developers as well as hobbyists. This latest release has support for the Kinect sensor and a defined Reference Platform. Open source? No, but free and if you’re into robotics you may want give it a look.

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  1. Some snippets from their official rules:
    – you can apply if “You are a legal resident of the fifty (50) United States”
    – “Robot hardware cannot be modified”
    – “Software components must run on Windows 7 and RDS4”
    – Winner determination: “40.00% – Originality and 60.00% – Utility / Usefulness”

    How can you build something useful with that platform?

    And the competition title also is not so original:

    Microsoft did not get how research should be done, IMHO.

  2. Can you use this with one of the .NET embedded platforms ? I remember there were a few of them mentioned here (FEZ, Netudino, and a 3rd more expensive one I forgot)

  3. RDS is a powerful tool. Most of the opensource people in my lab (robotics research) were sucking up time to develop a concept into a working experiment to collect data. When I introduced this tool to my lab, things are running at the speed they can come up with an idea. Productivity increased. Time to implement idea decreased. Freedom to use any instrument in the lab with one technology (ofcourse with other OS a lot of our instruments were not supported). Just look at the difference. .NET technology is the best ever made by MS. They fixed what was not fixed for decades used by C++. Repeated code is reduced. Freedom of language in .NET is a big thing because in our labs somepeople prefer c++, some use python and java. All of them can now share their class with one another with .NET. Seriously if people say something about RDS without trying it is either novice or a person following a crowd of novice.

    PS: I have used Webots, RoboLogix, Worksapce, Simbad 3d, Stage and breve

  4. What RDS lets you to do is not what I personally call robotics. How can you build any robotic application on windows? where is the real time part? And, if your target needs to be a microcontroller, i wonder how the ASM produced by .NET starting from a java/python class looks like…

    Anyway, I was criticizing more the contest than RDS itself, as it is targeted to absolutely different things that what we do in our lab, no needs for it, and as our applications are mostly for educational purposes to, I’ll never go for closed source and Microsoft, you can’t learn as much as when looking into open source tools from my point of view.

    PS: I prefer real robots than simulators ;)

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