Robots, Incorporated

Microsoft’s best and brightest are quietly trying to bring robotics into the mainstream

14 min read
Robots, Incorporated
Photo: Brian Smale

Software pundits and tech analysts can be forgiven for overlooking Microsoft’s new robotics group. Compared with the company’s billion-dollar businesses—Windows, MSN, Xbox, and more—robotics is nonexistent. Microsoft is giving the group’s software away for free for noncommercial use. In other ways, robotics is merely minuscule. And indeed, the company is hardly betting the farm on it, having devoted only 11 of its 76 000 employees to creating Robotics Studio 1.0.

Yet this tiny group of elite software engineers, housed in a small set of open offices known as the “Broom Closet,” handpicked by a 26-year company veteran who has the ear of Bill Gates, and tucked into a tiny corner of the company’s research budget, has put together a set of tools that may bring robot manufacturers under one roof, the way Windows did for most PC makers. Indeed, future versions may someday find their way into more machines than Windows did—and be just as lucrative. Microsoft’s eventual plan is to charge users US $399 to license up to 200 copies of the software components that go into a commercial robot.

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Video Friday: Turkey Sandwich

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
A teleoperated humanoid robot torso stands in a kitchen assembling a turkey sandwich from ingredients on a tray

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today's videos!

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Four examples of Nvidia's Instant NeRF 2D-to-3D machine learning model placed side-by-side.

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NVIDIA

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Industrial Functional Safety Training from UL Solutions

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UL Solutions offer personnel certification at both the professional and expert levels in automotive, autonomous vehicles, electronics and semiconductors, machinery, industrial automation, and cybersecurity.

UL Solutions

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