Maybe I’ve been listening to too much early Numan, but the new Microsoft Robotics Studio v1.0 preview sounds interesting. There’s a real-time real-world physics engine included, for virtual simulated interaction with your personal robot. Javascript, running in a web browser, controls the test robot at the same time as interacting with a fine-grained RSS-like feedback from the robot. Code is ‘copy & paste’ portable between robots.

The functions are basic level, but so were those on the first PC’s. It took 20 years to get from the Altair in 1975 to the mass adoption of fast cheap home PCs in 1995, and then another 10 years to bed down. But that was done without the huge amount of volunteer developers that can be harnessed by a mass internet and also without a high-end desktop virtual simulation environment for working-prototype development. How long will it be before advanced and robust robots reach mass-market adoption? Ten years? Or earlier? China has announced human-shaped robots performing traditional shadow boxing, playing music and engaging in other arts, for the 2010 World Expo. Meanwhile, we already have robots that are definitely not going to play music and dance.