In pictures: inside Microsoft's robot factory

What MS robots will do for us in the next 5 years

  • Two wheels good, two arms better

    The uBot-5 is a two-wheeled, dynamically stable robot with two arms and a rotating trunk.
  • Robots as toys

    Tandy Trower, general manager of the Microsoft Robotics Group, talks about the recent advancement in robots, noting that Pleo, a robotic dinosaur toy, learns from its interactions and environment.
  • Back of the net

    Programmers can work on software created by Aldebaran Robotics using a simulation of their Nao robot, which was designed to compete in the RoboCup. The competition pits humanoid robots against world-class human football players. The goal is to develop robots that can beat human players by 2050.
  • May the force be with you

    What roboticist doesn't love R2-D2? Trower says robotics is evolving to the point that a machine will engage with you and someday serve you, leaving today's toys far behind.
  • Understanding the fundamentals

    Trower shows off the iRobot Create, which is designed to help people understand the fundamentals of robots and how to write software to control them. He said the industry needs a standardised software platform, and that's what Microsoft is working on.
  • Here to help

    Patrick Deegan and Bryan J Thibodeau, graduate students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, used Microsoft's Robotics Studio software to develop uBot-5. Using the attached display screen, someone could see what the robot sees, someday enabling a doctor or relative to check in on a senior citizen who is living with the aid robot.
  • A PC on wheels

    Trower calls the iRobi Q, presented by Yujin Robot, a PC on wheels, since it has an Intel Pentium processor and 512MB of memory. The iRobi Q may someday aid the country's growing elderly population.
  • Life as a learning experience

    The uBot-5 can pick itself up off the floor, maintain its balance as it moves its two arms and learn from its experiences. The robot uses a Celeron processor.
  • First simulate, then build

    Kyle Johns is a senior developer in the Microsoft Robotics Group. He's working on the Microsoft Visual Simulation Environment, which allows developers to try out programs virtually before they go in the robot.
  • Pink cheeks and a bright yellow smile

    With pink cheeks, a bright yellow smile and heart shapes in its eyes, the iRobi Q is designed to make people feel comfortable around it. Microsoft is using it as a prototype for developing software that will make iRobi Q useful. Trower says we may have this or similar robots in our homes in three to five years.
  • Caring for the elderly

    The uBot-5 is designed to move easily through a human home environment and could someday be used for elder care.
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