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Microsoft ready to do the robot


Microsoft ready to do the robot

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Maybe it's the robotic dog resting in the corner or the R2-D2 "Star Wars" droid on the floor, but Tandy Trower's office is not a typical workstation found on the Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) campus.

Trower heads the Microsoft Robotics Group, a nine-person operation with the modest trappings of a start-up company but grand ambitions befitting a $44 billion software giant....

...Another breakthrough is the software's ability to simulate a robot's motions incorporating laws of physics like gravity and friction so tests can be done without risking expensive machinery, Trower said.

He is most intrigued by how the software deals with programming for "concurrency", a high-level technical challenge when multiple functions occur simultaneously.

Dealing with "concurrency" or parallel processing is a challenge that extends beyond the robot group, and across the company's core PC software businesses.

Computers are moving from single to multiple processors to obtain results faster, but writing software for parallel computing systems poses a new set of technical hurdles. Robots provide the ideal testing platform, because they are the natural evolution of the PC, Trower said.

"The challenge for the developer of the future is the same thing that a conductor in an orchestra would have," Trower said. "You have all these different players, they are all playing their separate pieces, but how do you get them to blend together in a harmonious piece?"


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