Members of Microsoft's Robotics Group are confident robotics is going to be the big story of the next five years.

Tandy Trower, general manager of the MS Robotics Group, predicted that his three-year-old department, which operates like a start-up inside Microsoft, will go from a quiet unit to a major revenue source within five years.

That will happen, he said, because the industry is quickly moving from one that mostly supplies giant robotic machines to factories and manufacturing plants to an industry that is creating robotic aids and companions in our homes.

Visit PC Advisor's Microsoft spotlight for the latest Microsoft news and opinion

"It's becoming more than big robots that don't interact with people," said Trower.

"We're looking at more personal robots. Robotics is evolving to something you will engage with and that will serve you in your life in some way."

And Microsoft is hoping to develop the software that will run the machines that will keep us company, play with us and even take care of the country's growing elderly population.

Trower led us on a tour of Microsoft's robotics facility. The company isn't making the robots themselves, but it is making a robotics software platform.

During the tour, Microsoft engineers showed off robots - some already on the market and some that are still in the works - as examples of changes that are afoot in the industry.

Over the next 11 pages, we'll bring you images of those robots, and what significance Microsoft Robotics Group attributes to them.

NEXT PAGE: robots as toys > >

  1. Inside Microsoft's Robotics Group
  2. Robots as toys
  3. May the force be with you
  4. Understanding the fundamentals
  5. A PC on wheels
  6. Pink cheeks and a bright yellow smile
  7. First simulate, then build
  8. Back of the net
  9. Two wheels good, two arms better
  10. Caring for the elderly
  11. Here to help
  12. Life as a learning experience

Members of Microsoft's Robotics Group are confident robotics is going to be the big story of the next five years. Visit PC Advisor's Microsoft spotlight for the latest Microsoft news and opinion.

Robots as toys

MS Robots

Tandy Trower, general manager of the Microsoft Robotics Group, talks about the recent advancement in robots, noting that Pleo, a robotic dinosaur toy, learns from its interactions and environment.

NEXT PAGE: may the force be with you > >

  1. Inside Microsoft's Robotics Group
  2. Robots as toys
  3. May the force be with you
  4. Understanding the fundamentals
  5. A PC on wheels
  6. Pink cheeks and a bright yellow smile
  7. First simulate, then build
  8. Back of the net
  9. Two wheels good, two arms better
  10. Caring for the elderly
  11. Here to help
  12. Life as a learning experience

Members of Microsoft's Robotics Group are confident robotics is going to be the big story of the next five years. Visit PC Advisor's Microsoft spotlight for the latest Microsoft news and opinion.

May the force be with you

Robots

What roboticist doesn't love R2-D2? Trower says robotics is evolving to the point that a machine will engage with you and someday serve you, leaving today's toys far behind.

NEXT PAGE: understanding the fundamentals > >

  1. Inside Microsoft's Robotics Group
  2. Robots as toys
  3. May the force be with you
  4. Understanding the fundamentals
  5. A PC on wheels
  6. Pink cheeks and a bright yellow smile
  7. First simulate, then build
  8. Back of the net
  9. Two wheels good, two arms better
  10. Caring for the elderly
  11. Here to help
  12. Life as a learning experience

Members of Microsoft's Robotics Group are confident robotics is going to be the big story of the next five years. Visit PC Advisor's Microsoft spotlight for the latest Microsoft news and opinion.

Understanding the fundamentals

MS Robots

Trower shows off the iRobot Create, which is designed to help people understand the fundamentals of robots and how to write software to control them. He said the industry needs a standardized software platform, and that's what Microsoft is working on.

NEXT PAGE: a PC on wheels > >

  1. Inside Microsoft's Robotics Group
  2. Robots as toys
  3. May the force be with you
  4. Understanding the fundamentals
  5. A PC on wheels
  6. Pink cheeks and a bright yellow smile
  7. First simulate, then build
  8. Back of the net
  9. Two wheels good, two arms better
  10. Caring for the elderly
  11. Here to help
  12. Life as a learning experience

Members of Microsoft's Robotics Group are confident robotics is going to be the big story of the next five years. Visit PC Advisor's Microsoft spotlight for the latest Microsoft news and opinion.

A PC on wheels

MS Robots

Trower calls the iRobi Q, presented by Yujin Robot, a PC on wheels, since it has an Intel Pentium processor and 512MB of memory. The iRobi Q may someday aid the country's growing elderly population.

NEXT PAGE: pink cheeks and a bright yellow smile > >

  1. Inside Microsoft's Robotics Group
  2. Robots as toys
  3. May the force be with you
  4. Understanding the fundamentals
  5. A PC on wheels
  6. Pink cheeks and a bright yellow smile
  7. First simulate, then build
  8. Back of the net
  9. Two wheels good, two arms better
  10. Caring for the elderly
  11. Here to help
  12. Life as a learning experience

Members of Microsoft's Robotics Group are confident robotics is going to be the big story of the next five years. Visit PC Advisor's Microsoft spotlight for the latest Microsoft news and opinion.

Pink cheeks and a bright yellow smile

MS Robots

With pink cheeks, a bright yellow smile and heart shapes in its eyes, the iRobi Q is designed to make people feel comfortable around it. Microsoft is using it as a prototype for developing software that will make iRobi Q useful. Trower says we may have this or similar robots in our homes in three to five years.

NEXT PAGE: first simulate, then build > >

  1. Inside Microsoft's Robotics Group
  2. Robots as toys
  3. May the force be with you
  4. Understanding the fundamentals
  5. A PC on wheels
  6. Pink cheeks and a bright yellow smile
  7. First simulate, then build
  8. Back of the net
  9. Two wheels good, two arms better
  10. Caring for the elderly
  11. Here to help
  12. Life as a learning experience

Members of Microsoft's Robotics Group are confident robotics is going to be the big story of the next five years. Visit PC Advisor's Microsoft spotlight for the latest Microsoft news and opinion.

First simulate, then build

MS Robots

Kyle Johns is a senior developer in the Microsoft Robotics Group. He's working on the Microsoft Visual Simulation Environment, which allows developers to try out programs virtually before they go in the robot.

NEXT PAGE: back of the net > >

  1. Inside Microsoft's Robotics Group
  2. Robots as toys
  3. May the force be with you
  4. Understanding the fundamentals
  5. A PC on wheels
  6. Pink cheeks and a bright yellow smile
  7. First simulate, then build
  8. Back of the net
  9. Two wheels good, two arms better
  10. Caring for the elderly
  11. Here to help
  12. Life as a learning experience

Members of Microsoft's Robotics Group are confident robotics is going to be the big story of the next five years. Visit PC Advisor's Microsoft spotlight for the latest Microsoft news and opinion.

Back of the net

MS Robots

Programmers can work on software created by Aldebaran Robotics using a simulation of their Nao robot, which was designed to compete in the RoboCup. The competition pits humanoid robots against world-class human football players. The goal is to develop robots that can beat human players by 2050.

NEXT PAGE: two wheels good, two arms better > >

  1. Inside Microsoft's Robotics Group
  2. Robots as toys
  3. May the force be with you
  4. Understanding the fundamentals
  5. A PC on wheels
  6. Pink cheeks and a bright yellow smile
  7. First simulate, then build
  8. Back of the net
  9. Two wheels good, two arms better
  10. Caring for the elderly
  11. Here to help
  12. Life as a learning experience

Members of Microsoft's Robotics Group are confident robotics is going to be the big story of the next five years. Visit PC Advisor's Microsoft spotlight for the latest Microsoft news and opinion.

Two wheels good, two arms better

MS Robots

The uBot-5 is a two-wheeled, dynamically stable robot with two arms and a rotating trunk.

NEXT PAGE: caring for the elderly > >

  1. Inside Microsoft's Robotics Group
  2. Robots as toys
  3. May the force be with you
  4. Understanding the fundamentals
  5. A PC on wheels
  6. Pink cheeks and a bright yellow smile
  7. First simulate, then build
  8. Back of the net
  9. Two wheels good, two arms better
  10. Caring for the elderly
  11. Here to help
  12. Life as a learning experience

Members of Microsoft's Robotics Group are confident robotics is going to be the big story of the next five years. Visit PC Advisor's Microsoft spotlight for the latest Microsoft news and opinion.

Caring for the elderly

MS Robots

The uBot-5 is designed to move easily through a human home environment and could someday be used for elder care.

NEXT PAGE: here to help > >

  1. Inside Microsoft's Robotics Group
  2. Robots as toys
  3. May the force be with you
  4. Understanding the fundamentals
  5. A PC on wheels
  6. Pink cheeks and a bright yellow smile
  7. First simulate, then build
  8. Back of the net
  9. Two wheels good, two arms better
  10. Caring for the elderly
  11. Here to help
  12. Life as a learning experience

Members of Microsoft's Robotics Group are confident robotics is going to be the big story of the next five years. Visit PC Advisor's Microsoft spotlight for the latest Microsoft news and opinion.

Here to help

MS Robots

Patrick Deegan and Bryan J Thibodeau, graduate students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, used Microsoft's Robotics Studio software to develop uBot-5. Using the attached display screen, someone could see what the robot sees, someday enabling a doctor or relative to check in on a senior citizen who is living with the aid robot.

NEXT PAGE: life as a learning experience > >

  1. Inside Microsoft's Robotics Group
  2. Robots as toys
  3. May the force be with you
  4. Understanding the fundamentals
  5. A PC on wheels
  6. Pink cheeks and a bright yellow smile
  7. First simulate, then build
  8. Back of the net
  9. Two wheels good, two arms better
  10. Caring for the elderly
  11. Here to help
  12. Life as a learning experience

Members of Microsoft's Robotics Group are confident robotics is going to be the big story of the next five years. Visit PC Advisor's Microsoft spotlight for the latest Microsoft news and opinion.

Life as a learning experience

MS Robots

The uBot-5 can pick itself up off the floor, maintain its balance as it moves its two arms and learn from its experiences. The robot uses a Celeron processor.

  1. Inside Microsoft's Robotics Group
  2. Robots as toys
  3. May the force be with you
  4. Understanding the fundamentals
  5. A PC on wheels
  6. Pink cheeks and a bright yellow smile
  7. First simulate, then build
  8. Back of the net
  9. Two wheels good, two arms better
  10. Caring for the elderly
  11. Here to help
  12. Life as a learning experience