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Use Blender With Microsoft Robotics Studio


cylon.jpgAbout ten days ago (on December 12th) Microsoft released it's Microsoft Robotics Studio (which is free for non-commercial use and $400 USD for commercial). What's really neat is that there is an add-on with Blender support.

And what is the Robotics Studio? From Tandy Trower's Letter:

Microsoft has created a new software development kit for the robotics community which supplies a software platform that can enables development of a wide variety of applications which can be used across a wide variety of hardware, applicable to a wide audience of users.

Sure, this is all well and good, but you won't find any sign that MS is supporting an open source program like Blender. That's where CoroWare comes in. From their PlusPack for MS Robotics Studio product page:

The CoroWare® Robotics PlusPack is a versatile collection of applications, services, tools, assets and utility classes that complement and extend the capabilities of Microsoft Robotics Studio®. Now you can more quickly and effectively simulate spatial environments, manage your robotics services and develop solutions using the Microsoft .NET Framework.

Global Directory Service
Track your robotic systems and services locally and across a network.

Application Services
Leverage a Virtual Sumo Arena and Virtual Soccer Arena.

Utility Applications
Use BOS Exporter and Pre-viewer for 3DStudioMax and Blender, and an Asset Librarian.

Simulation Assets
Include vehicles, office furniture, and human actors in your robotic simulations.

Simulation Components
Include additional sprites and fonts in your simulations.

The PlusPack is free to download though registration is required. It's in the Community Technology Preview phase so think what you will of the quality of the product. Though if it's supporting Blender, it must have some merit.

*Additional:  Blender supports rigid body simulation authoring, including new preliminary editing of constraints. Other packages do too, like Max, Maya, CreateDynamics, and soon XSI. You can check out upcoming (preliminary) support for robotic rigid body constraints in Bullet here.  What this means is that if Microsoft would support the COLLADA Physics format, we could use Bullet (instead of PhysX, as in MS Robotics Studio).

About the Author


Just a guy really into 3D, especially where Blender is concerned.


  1. bmud you're scaring me. just use halos.

    this is interesting...didn't know ms was into robotics. then again, i don't know much about robotics. what would u use blender for with robotics?

  2. Bmud- Use halos.

    This is really cool- it looks like Blender is being used to simulate the bot, not control it though... Does this mean AI in Blender?

  3. Wow, having Blender mentioned two clicks from Microsoft's webpage under recommended 3rd party software is actually pretty high profile. And the fact that Max is the only other 3D app currently supported by Coroware is also interesting.

  4. As far as I can tell they are only making use of free Blender to handle .obj files with materials and textures for use in MSRS. Possibly they want to make a whole scene too for the accurate simulation of a robots environment or the depiction of the robots themselves.
    There is a related article I came across while browsing this news about the procedure for the export of parts and assemblies from Solidworks as VRML and the use of python scripts to import to Blender.
    I was originally involved in that along with a guy Ewout ( don't know if he is still around...) for rendering/animation SW in Blender.Something I still do BTW.
    Here it is being used as a translation service to get engineering models into MSRS.
    Possibly they do not give enough credit/acknowledgement to Blender or maybe there should be a link on the page out of courtesy to the community?

  5. This is part of microsoft's plan to dominate the education sector, thereby making sure that new workers only know how to use their products. Please don't contribute to microsoft's advertising campaign.

  6. MS offers an software which can us blender in "Utility Applications"?
    Whatever it means "Utility Applications" - people in redmond know blender.
    Should i say: Hey great! - my feeling is that the hairs in my neck are going up, don´t ask
    my why. But if i remember correct is that MS tried to invade and destroy Opensource a while ago
    throu the backdoor.
    I think its an good thing that we have an OS worldwide like XP - so i didn´t have on my PC dozens of differents OS because you need one OS for games, another for the Office and soon.
    But the domination of one OS Company brings also problems - a lot of problems:
    - forcing users to use only MS Themes for desktop
    - Updates for the OS taking long in the past (... see how fast blender get his "a" update after release...)
    - forcing other companys to sell there PC´s only with MS Products
    - blocking other companys with not gentlemen-actions
    - see the trouble with the EU and how MS reacts on that
    and so on........

    I say only: Nice, they knowing about our existing - but keep your eye´s open!

    And by the way....... MERRY XMAS to you all!!!!!!!

  7. It would be good if Microsoft Robot Studio supports COLLADA Physics.

    It would allow rich exchange, including collision detection and rigid body constraints between their application and others (Blender, 3ds Mac, Maya, and other custom tools like Ageia's CreateDynamics)...

  8. See also this discussion:

    If Microsoft Robotics Studio would support COLLADA Physics, we could author the robots also in Blender, and simulate them using Bullet physics engine.

    Blender 2.43 has preliminary rigid body constraint editing, and version 2.44 will add more capabilities in this area (adding better user interface for editing constraint limits, motors etc):


  9. Erwin,
    Why not contact the MSRS boss guy Tandy Trower and see if they would support it.
    They certainly have financial and technical resources to do something if they choose.
    It seems to me that they are genuinely interested in promoting robotics and having a variety of people/companies involved so why not Blender in a more involved way than being a convenient tool for .obj handling.
    I am sure there are some very knowledgeable people at MSRS who would be very interested in your work and future plans.
    Also I seem to remember that there was a presentation at the last Blender conference by Theo de Ridder looking to use Blender for 'interactive visualisation' so possibly its just another avenue for Blenderheads to go down...throw in some motion capture etc for good measure...and 3d scanning...
    Blender could become a core for open source roboheads as well

  10. Actually, it's not Microsoft itself that is making Blender compatible. So, it's not like Microsoft is trying to devour us.

    I say this is very good for us. Especially since is something that people look at quite frequently (usually trying to look for not yet existant patches and updates). If anything this is just good publicity.

    I came to Linux/Open Source through Blender. If anything, someone will see this, look up Blender, become involved, find out about Open Source/Linux, and switch.

    I used to like MS products and Windows. Used to criticize Linux. Nowadays I don't even have a dual boot; my computer is entirely Linux now.

    So, in my opinion (and I may be wrong), this can only bring good.

  11. Lol, heres what i think if it hasnt been already said.. (im WAY too lazy to read all teh comments)

    MS is only doing this to turn people using linux to MS, since people use linux and blender is one of the better things you can get on it. With MS being compatible with it, they think they have advantage over blender users >.>

  12. ROFL !!!!!
    The very first thing you learn in the very first of a series of tutorials on the MSRS website is.........
    how to generate an alert string :D

    Error-handling: the Master Key to the M$ universe

  13. And the dont have a forum or a chat to ask them questions about it either.
    Political bastards.
    microsoft technology is never going to be environmental.
    they are definatly money hungry ass's

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