Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio

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Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio
Developer(s)Microsoft in association with the community
Initial releaseDecember 18, 2006; 15 years ago (2006-12-18)
Stable release
4.0 / March 8, 2012; 9 years ago (2012-03-08)
Operating system
TypeRobotics suite
WebsiteNo longer available

Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio (Microsoft RDS, MRDS) is a discontinued Windows-based environment for robot control and simulation that was aimed at academic, hobbyist, and commercial developers and handled a wide variety of robot hardware. It required the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system or later.

RDS is based on CCR (Concurrency and Coordination Runtime): a .NET-based concurrent library implementation for managing asynchronous parallel tasks. This technique involves using message-passing and a lightweight services-oriented runtime, DSS (Decentralized Software Services), which allows the orchestration of multiple services to achieve complex behaviors.

Features include: a visual programming tool, Microsoft Visual Programming Language for creating and debugging robot applications, web-based and windows-based interfaces, 3D simulation (including hardware acceleration), easy access to a robot's sensors and actuators. The primary programming language is C#.

Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio includes support for packages to add other services to the suite. Those currently available include Soccer Simulation and Sumo Competition by Microsoft, and a community-developed Maze Simulator, a program to create worlds with walls that can be explored by a virtual robot, and a set of services for OpenCV. Most of the additional packages are hosted on CodePlex (search for Robotics Studio). Course materials are also available.


Example of a Reference Platform Robot

There are four main components in RDS:

  • CCR (Concurrency and Coordination Runtime)
  • DSS (Decentralized Software Services)
  • VPL (Visual Programming Language)
  • VSE (Visual Simulation Environment)

CCR and DSS are also available separately for use in commercial applications that require a high level of concurrency and/or must be distributed across multiple nodes in a network. This package is called the CCR and DSS Toolkit.



The tools that allow to develop an MRDS application contain a graphical environment (Microsoft Visual Programming Language : VPL) command line tools allow you to deal with Visual Studio projects (VS Express version is enough) in C#, and 3D simulation tools.

  • Visual Programming Language is a graphical development environment that uses a service and activity catalog.
    • They can interact graphically, a service or an activity is represented by a block that has inputs and outputs that just need to be dragged from the catalog to the diagram.
    • Linking can be done with the mouse, it allows you to define if signals are simultaneous or not, permits you to perform operations on transmitted values...
    • VPL also allows you to generate the code of new "macro" services from diagrams created by users.
    • It is possible in VPL to easily customize services for different hardware elements.
  • RDS 3D simulation environment allows you to simulate the behavior of robots in a virtual world using NVIDIA PhysX technology (3D engine originally written by Ageia) that includes advanced physics.
A simulated robot with a Kinect sensor
  • There are several simulation environments in RDS. These environments were developed by SimplySim
    • Apartment
    • Factory
    • Modern House
    • Outdoor
    • Urban
  • Many examples and tutorials are available for the different tools, which permits a fast understanding of MRDS. Several applications have been added to the suite, such as Maze Simulator, or Soccer Simulation which is developed by Microsoft.
  • The Kinect sensor can be used on a robot in the RDS environment. RDS also includes a simulated Kinect sensor. The Kinect Services for RDS are licensed for both commercial and non-commercial use. They depend on the Kinect for Windows SDK.

Notable applications[edit]


Versions and Licensing[edit]

  • Robotics Studio 1.0 (Commercial and Non-Commercial Use Licenses) -- Release Date: December 18, 2006
  • Robotics Studio 1.5 (Commercial and Non-Commercial Use Licenses) -- Release Date: May 2007
  • Robotics Studio 1.5 "Refresh" (Commercial and Non-Commercial Use Licenses) -- Release Date: December 13, 2007
  • Robotics Developer Studio 2008 Standard Edition (Commercial Use), Academic Edition (Academic use) and Express Edition (Commercial and Non-Commercial Use) -- Release Date: November 18, 2008
  • Robotics Developer Studio 2008 R2 Standard Edition (Commercial Use), Academic Edition (Academic use) and Express Edition (Commercial and Non-Commercial Use) -- Release Date: June 17, 2009
  • Robotics Developer Studio 2008 R3—Release Date: May 20, 2010. With R3, Robotics Developer Studio 2008 is now free and the functionality of all editions and CCR & DSS Toolkit has been combined into the single free edition. R3 is no longer compatible with .NET Compact Framework development and it no longer supports Windows CE.[4]
  • Robotics Developer Studio 4 -- Release Date: March 8, 2012. This release adds full support for the Kinect sensor via the Kinect for Windows SDK V1. A Reference Platform Design is included in the documentation, with the first implementation being the Eddie robot from Parallax. It also updates RDS to .NET 4.0 and XNA 4.0.[5]

Supported robots[edit]

An iRobot Create robot inside Microsoft Robotic Studio's Visual Simulation Environment
Robotino inside Microsoft Robotic Studio's Visual Simulation Environment

Microsoft Robotics and the Future[edit]

Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio has not been updated or patched since version 4.0, which was released on March 8, 2012. On September 22, 2014, as part of Microsoft's restructuring plan, the Robotics division of Microsoft Research was suspended, according to a tweet from Ashley Feniello, a principal developer at Microsoft Robotics division of MSR (Microsoft Research). It is now highly unlikely that MRDS will ever be updated again, however forum members (MVPs) may still offer limited support.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Technical Paper for the Darpa Challenge" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-03-31. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  2. ^ a b "SDTimes On The Web, Microsoft's shift to parallel computing, By David Worthington, August 1, 2008". Archived from the original on 2009-07-15. Retrieved 2008-08-02.
  3. ^ "Princeton Autonomous Vehicle Engineering -Section Software". Retrieved 2019-04-08.
  4. ^ "Microsoft Announces Robotics Developer Studio 2008 R3: Microsoft Robotics Blog". Archived from the original on 2010-05-23. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
  5. ^ "Microsoft Announces Robotics Developer Studio 4 Beta: Microsoft Robotics Blog". Archived from the original on 2011-09-23. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  6. ^ Feniello, Ashley (20 Sep 2014). "Sadly, the Microsoft robotics team has been shut down. My card key stops working tomorrow afternoon... :-/". Twitter. Retrieved 2016-01-20.

Further reading[edit]

  • Kang, Shih-Chung; Chang, Wei-Tze; Gu, Kai-Yuan; Chi, Hung-Lin (2011). Robot Development Using Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio. Chapman and Hall/CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-4398-2165-7.

External links[edit]