In an effort to make the field of robotics accessible to a larger group of developers, Microsoft has released Microsoft Robotics Studio (MSRS). MSRS is based on the popular .NET Framework. It offers developers a standard and consistent way to develop applications for an almost limitless variety of robotic platforms. Currently, version 1.5 of MSRS is available for download from the MSRS Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/robotics).
MSRS, along with four affordable and easy-to-work-with robots, will be featured in this book. The robots used in this book include the following:
Boe-Bot by Parallax This three-wheeled robot is small, but it offers valuable experience for those new to electronic kits. In addition to the Boe-Bot kit, readers wanting to use this robot will need to purchase the eb500 Bluetooth module. The configuration steps required make the Boe-Bot the most time-consuming robot to assemble and configure.
Create by iRobot This pre-assembled robot was built with developers in mind. It is based on the highly popular Roomba vacuum, but this model does not vacuum floors. Instead, you have the convenience of a pre-assembled and sturdy robot. Additionally, the payload capacity and expandability of this robot allows it to be used for several useful purposes.
Mindstorms NXT by LEGO This surprisingly sturdy and useful robot is small, expandable, and easy to work with. The robot comes with five sensors, which can be easily attached to the base. Even though the robot is made with small LEGO bricks, this is not to be confused with a child's toy.
ARobot by Arrick Robotics This three-wheeled robot features a large metal chassis, which makes it easy to expand. The robot was included as a means of demonstrating how new hardware can be supported (this is done in Chapter 7). In chapter 8, the ARobot is expanded to include an onboard laptop, which allows it to capture images using a USB Web camera.
One of the things that make this book particularly special is that all the chapters were reviewed by members of the MSRS product group team. The reviews were meant to ensure content accuracy, and, thus, I feel confident that the material covered is beneficial to the reader.
About the Author
Sara Morgan is a Microsoft MVP for Office Communications Server; she has spent many years developing with speech-recognition and other automation technologies. Her first book, Building Intelligent .NET Applications: Agents, Data Mining, Rule-Based Systems, and Speech Processing, was published in 2005. She is a frequent contributor to publications, print and online, such as MSDNÂ® Magazine and devx.com