Getting Started With Visual Robotics Studio


In the January 2007 edition of Scientific American, Bill Gates predicted A Robot in Every Home. If we are all going to have our own robots, then maybe we'll need to learn how to program them...?


Microsoft Visual Robotics Studio is a powerful, drag'n'drop visual environment for programming a wide range of robots, from expensive commercial robots, to affordable Lego MindStorms and LEGO NXT robots.


Getting started with the Visual Robotics Studio can be quite intimidating for the beginner, so we've put together some resources to hopefully make it a little less painful!


Getting Started

Getting Started with Microsoft VPL and a LEGO NXT robot

Getting Started with Microsoft VPL and a Lego RCX robot



Getting Started in the Simulator

The Microsoft Visual Programming Language can be used to control robots in 3D virtual world. Let's Get Started with Simulated Robots


What Does That Bit Do?

A collection of worked examples showing how to use the basis Visual Programming blocks and Activities. Visit the Block Glossary (see also: Generic Block Glossary and RCX Activity Blocks Glossary (both TBC)).

How do the activity blocks work? Using the Blocks


Lego Robots in Action

A short course on programming Lego Mindstorms robots using the Visual Programming Language. Based on activities developed for use in the Open University short course T184 Robotics and the Meaning of Life and the Robotics activity from the OU residential school TXR174 Technology in Action


Activity 1 Overview: LEGO Mindstorms and LEGO NXT robot prototyping systems

Activity 2: Remote Control

Activity 3: Programming Overview

Activity 4: Getting the Robot to Move

Activity 5: Open-Loop Control

Activity 6: Using Gears

Activity 7: Using Sensors

Activity 8: Programming Structures (TBC)

Activity 9: Closed loop control -- collision detector

Activity 10: Interpreting light sensor data

Activity 11: Closed loop control -- line stopper

Activity 12: Programming an Edge Follower

Activity 13: Using sensors -- rotation sensor (TBC)

Activity 14: ??


How Visual Robotics Studio Works

Not for the uninitiated or the easily scared!

- All about manifests

- Jon's VPL musings

- Jon's trials and tribulations


About This Project

The examples produced for this project were originally developed for use with the Lego Robotics Invention System and the Lego RCX brick, which can still be found in many schools today, despite the release of the 'next generation' Lego NXT robotic system and the rise of other educational robotics platforms.

Many of the examples can be easily modified to work with other robot systems, which is why we are making the materials available through a wiki - if you have got the examples to work with other robot systems, feel free to add details to the relevant page.


Lego NXT and VPL Blogs and Interesting Blog Posts


nxtasy - Building A Lego NXT Community Brick by Brick

Mindstorms Education NXT (official LEGO blog)

Girl Geek

Lego NXT and Wiimote Control


Some other interesting stuff


Talking Robots Podcast - Talking Robots is a podcast featuring interviews with high-profile professionals in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence for an inside view on the science, technology, and business of intelligent robotics. Talking Robots is brought to you by the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, EPFL, Switzerland


Tandy Trower, general manager of the Microsoft Robotics Group, discussing Microsoft's interest in robotics and why it's developing the Robotics Studio: Taandy Trower in conversation on the Talking Robots podcast.


(Geeks only!)

Channel 9 Screencast: Andreas Ulbrich demonstrates the Microsoft Visual Programming Language

Channel 9 Screencast: RESTful Robotics: Henrik Frystyk Nielsen on the Microsoft Robotics Studio

Channel 9 video: Microsoft Robotics Studio

Channel 9 video: Microsoft Robotics Tour: CCR, VPL, Simulation - Part 1

Channel 9 video: Microsoft Robotics Tour: CCR, VPL, Simulation - Part 2