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Robots Unlimited PHD Summerschool July 2006 Alexander Brändle Marco Combetto. Agenda. Who we are? Why robotics? Activity overview Future ideas. Intelligent Environments Team. Alexander Braendle. Marco Combetto. Pierre-Louis Xech. Andreas Heil (PHD Student). Why robotics?.

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Robots unlimited phd summerschool july 2006 alexander br ndle marco combetto

Robots Unlimited

PHD Summerschool

July 2006

Alexander Brändle

Marco Combetto


  • Who we are?

  • Why robotics?

  • Activity overview

  • Future ideas

Intelligent environments team
Intelligent Environments Team









(PHD Student)

Why robotics
Why robotics?

  • How will Future Environments look like?

    • Challenges/Needs

    • Personal Devices, Embedded Devices, Sensors, Robots, Appliances?

    • Enabling technologies,Programming paradigms,Interaction paradigms?

  • How will future applications look like?

    • Wide range of user types?

    • Mixing real and virtual world?

Robots could form a part of it!

The robotics wave
The Robotics Wave

  • Service and consumer markets just emerging

    • Remote assistance/presence

    • Assistive

    • Facilities maintenance

    • Security

    • Education

    • Entertainment

  • Academic Research

    • Complex topic

    • Moving from 8/16 to 32 bit

    • Lots of hand-coded solutions

    • Education and Hobbyist channel

    • Still mostly 8 bit, starting to shift

  • Strong governmental interest worldwide

EURON roadmap:

2015 -> It‘s all about software


  • Wide range of applications

    • Commercial use

    • Academic use

    • Personal use

  • How to program them?

  • Challenges

    • Complexity

    • Reusability

    • Reliability

    • Resources

    • Tools

    • Technologies

    • Choice

    • Sharing

    • Transference of skills/experience


  • European Robotics Network (EURON)

  • European Robotics Platform (EUROP)

  • IEEE RAS Technical Commitee on ‚Programming Environments in Robotics and Automation‘

Robots too
Robots, too?

  • Software

    • Internet Explorer

    • Media Player

    • MS Agent

    • Mobile Phones

  • Definition: A robot is a device, hard- or software with the capability of sensing and (re-)acting.

Robotics at microsoft research cambridge robots in human environments
Robotics at Microsoft [Research (Cambridge)]Robots in human environments

  • End-user programming

    • Developer Tools (Fischertechnik-Demo, Scatterweb-Demo)

    • Visual Programming (.FUN-Demo)

    • End-user „debugging“

    • Microsoft Robotics Studio

    • Coding4Fun

  • Enabling new applications

    • Emotional oriented computing

    • Personal robotics

    • Self-reconfigurable structures

    • Learn from interaction with animals

The fischertechnik robo interface
The Fischertechnik ROBO Interface

  • The in- and outputs

    • 8 digital inputs

    • 2 digital and analog distance sensors

    • 4 analog sensors for resistance and voltage

    • 4 motors with 8 different speeds

  • The board

    • Serial port, COM, RS232

    • USB

    • Infrared

    • R/F module available

    • Ethernet for the next hardware revision planned


Adding control
Adding Control

  • Now we want to control the robot

  • Let‘s take another off the shelf product

  • Ordinary Joystick



Integrating sensors
Integrating Sensors

  • Sensors are they eyes and ears of robots

  • Increasing Demand for easy robust sensor platform from biology, ecology, civil engineering et al.

How to get easy access to Sensor Nodes systems

  • A challenge on it‘s own:

  • Where are sensor node platforms heading?

  • Dealing with vast amounts of real-time data becoming available

Sensor networks in the real world


Bluetooth, …



















Sensor Networks in the real world

  • Robustness …

    • WSNs have to work 24/7

    • WSNs have to offer uniform APIs

    • Long-lived, autonomous networks

    • Self-organizing and energy efficient

    • Routing

    • Data aggregation

    • Deployment & Setup

  • …Better development support

    • Realistic simulation tools

    • Heterogeneous testbeds

    • Useful traces

    • Tool integration (in well know platforms)

    • Development for heterogeneous systems


Robots unlimited phd summerschool july 2006 alexander br ndle marco combetto
Sensors (ScatterWeb) An open and flexible platform for rapid protoyping & implementation of wireless sensor networks

  • Nodes

    • with/without sensors

      • Sensors

        • Luminosity, noise detection, vibration, PIR movement detection,

      • Microphone/speaker

      • IR sender/receiver

    • stand-alone/modular

      • Acceleration, humidity, temperature, luminosity, noise detection, vibration, PIR movement detection on demand

    • Stand-by: 7.6µA, 5 years life-time with AA battery and 1% duty-cycle

  • Gateways

    • WLAN, Ethernet, Bluetooth, GPS, GSM/GPRS, USB, RS485 , serial…

  • Software

    • Management, flashing, routing, ns-2 simulation models

    • TCP/IP, web server (, Contiki, TinyOS, …

    • Basic functions for energy management, routing


Jochen Schiller,Free University Berlin

Net for scatterweb
.NET for ScatterWeb

  • Extend the .NET tools and architecture to small devices

  • Sensor world available to every developer

  • Easy access to sensor values, events, and functions

  • Understandable namespaces and interfaces

  • Support for IntelliSense and dynamic help

  • Well known programming model (events, methods, properties)

  • Extensibility of the nodes’ logic (Tiny C#) and instant IntelliSense-Update

  • Development, deployment and debugging within Visual Studio

Jochen Schiller,Free University Berlin

A first step
A first step

  • Attractive for developers

  • End-users?

Robots unlimited phd summerschool july 2006 alexander br ndle marco combetto

  • A compelling & engaging programmable environment to play & learn for children (introduce children to Computing in new ways)

  • Make technologies of tomorrow accessible to non technical market (children, nurse, elderly, machine operator)

  • Linking real and virtual world

  • Wider market potential of Robotics (Industrial, Assistive technology, new consumer products, health)

Technical University Berlin

Next steps
Next steps

  • Keep graphical representation

  • Using context data

  • Domain specific language

  • Changing the paradigm …

Integrating a context server 1 2
Integrating a Context Server 1/2

Raw Sensor Data

Context Events


Context Server



Context Requests

Torben Weis, University of Stuttgart

Integrating a context server 2 2
Integrating a Context Server 2/2

Raw Sensor Data

Context Events

Context Simulator

Context Server



3D Data

Context Requests

Torben Weis, University of Stuttgart

Microsoft robotics studio
Microsoft Robotics Studio

A development platform for robotics community, supporting a wide variety of users, hardware, and application scenarios.

Microsoft Robotics Studio

  • Simulation Tool

  • Visual Programming Language


Services and Samples


  • Samples and tutorials

  • Robot services

  • Robot models

  • Technology services

  • Concurrency

  • Services infrastructure

  • Make it easy to manage asynchronous components

    • Avoid need to understand manual threading, semaphores, etc.

  • Provide a scalable programming model

    • Make state observable, easily accessible

    • Provide for reusability and failure

    • Support component discovery and composition

    • Support remote/distributed execution

Microsoft robotics studio key runtime features
Microsoft Robotics StudioKey Runtime Features

  • Support standalone and distributed processing scenarios


autonomous operation

(with optional networked monitoring)



(remote execution on PC)


(execution across compute units)

Microsoft robotics studio1
Microsoft Robotics Studio

  • Extensible to a wide variety of hardware

Microsoft robotics studio services and samples
Microsoft Robotics StudioServices and Samples

  • Over 15 tutorials

    • VB.Net, C#, JScript

  • Support for

    • LEGO® Mindstorms® RCX

    • LEGO® Mindstorms® NXT

    • fischertechnik®

    • MobileRobots Pioneer P3™

Microsoft robotics studio other university support
Microsoft Robotics StudioOther University Support

  • Bryn Mawr College

  • Carnegie Mellon University

  • Cornell University

  • Georgia Tech

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Stanford University

  • University of Pennsylvania

  • University of Pisa

  • University of Southern California

  • University of Washington

Robotics at microsoft research cambridge robots in human environments1
Robotics at Microsoft [Research (Cambridge)]Robots in human environments

  • End-user programming

    • Developer Tools (Fischertechnik-Demo, Scatterweb-Demo)

    • Visual Programming (.FUN-Demo)

    • End-user „debugging“

    • Microsoft Robotics Studio

    • Coding4Fun

  • Enabling new applications

    • Emotional oriented computing

    • Personal robotics

    • Self-reconfigurable structures

    • Learn from interaction with animals

Emotion oriented computing
Emotion-Oriented Computing

General Goal: Make interaction between human and machine more natural for the humans

Machine should be able to:

To register human emotions

To convey and comunicate emotion

To understand the emotional relevance of the event


Microsoft Internal Only


Human centred affects and emotions
Human Centred, Affects and Emotions

Enhance communication through compelling, fun and emotional interactions with computing. Seeking to make the process more intuitive, interactive and appealing to a wider group of people. Experimenting, evolving, evaluate emotional models

Support privacy, intimacy and different level of information sharing

Extending the software as a new medium

Affective Media and Mobile media (affective loop)

Participatory creation, exchange, authoring and fruition

Storing the intimacy, the private value of the things

Fusion of different kind of data sensors, embodiments,


Microsoft Internal Only


Sensing interaction with environments

SensingInteraction with Environments

Some examples

Affective diary designing for bodily expressiveness and self reflection
Affective DiaryDesigning for bodily expressiveness and self-reflection

Collecting memories – including body memorabilia mingled with mobile materials (SMS, MMS, photographs, music listened to, video,..

Offering a diary medium in which those memories can be mirrored and organised

Empowering the user to create meaning and alter those representations


build on TabletPC and Smartphone

Sensordata (movement, arousal)


Microsoft Internal Only


Bsp interactive storytelling in vast location based
BSP: Interactive storytelling in vast location based

Pervasive computing: Location based games provide navigational challenges e.g. Chasing

Mobile Media: A flexible media and framework for interaction

Interactive storytelling: Balance linearity with user control, believable characters

The concept of believable environments, and our implementation, put a research focus on possibilities to:

Enrich pervasive games with location

dependent narratives

Design “the stage set” to improve

interactive storytelling


Microsoft Internal Only


Sensing interaction with robots

SensingInteraction with Robots

An example

The mind and the body
The mind and the body

Neurophysiologists suggest that the body plays a crucial role in our cognitive process

The brain experiences the world through the body:

The environment is well known to the brain

Outside environment is a set of states of inside

Agents with body (embodied agents) try to mimic this schema to produce intelligent behavior

Dautenhan and Jakobi show that body’s presence influences the behavior of software (anything already heard?)


Component structure
Component structure

Vision Roblet

Knowledge Base

Body Map

Arm Roblet

WiFi Roblet



Internal perception

Network perception


Robotics4 net

Realization of a platform for define the body of a robot as a set of agents (Roblets) that acts as intermediaries between the devices and the reasoning software

The robot provides a physical body and a set of core services to support the development of highly autonomous agent situated in both cyberspace (e.g Internet, virtual entities) and real world

Definition of an Object Model, an API, a set of abstraction that allows:

Portability (on different type of platforms)

Scalability from small (e.g. Lego) to complex systems

Integration with the MS Development Platform and MS OS and Application suites


Functions implemented
Functions implemented

The platform provide the following base services to support the software implementing the roblets:

General purpose functions (I/O)

Basic motion abilities

Collision avoidance software

Vision software for face recognition

Speech and gesturing recognition

Positioning and navigation aided by video input

Network perception

IM interface

The Architecture is available as a simple Software Development Kit freely downloadable from




Microsoft Internal Only


Evolving the framework
Evolving the framework

Reduce the programming model of Robotics4.NET to the one adopted by the Robotics Studio CTP

Extending the Mind/Body model with self-developing tools, model and methods to verify the behavior of systems imposing very high level constrains and how that can be both formally and programmatically verified

Testing interaction in real scenarios