In speaking with dozens (maybe hundreds) of people in various areas of technology work over the years, one topic that seemed to bring a smile or look of past contentment to a large percentage was LEGO. Those of us old enough to remember when there weren’t any pre-fabricated themed kits (just bricks of various sizes and colors and maybe some windows) recall endless hours of enjoyment of building some defined form out of a bunch of rectangular bricks. In 1998, LEGO introduced their Mindstorms Robotics Invention Kit (RIS) and, for many of us, merged the worlds of software with motors and sensors in a retail product that was with the reach of most techies (US$199). The kit apparently didn’t have a huge number of people buying it, however. And, for years it looked like an abandoned product. That all changed in 2006 when LEGO released the next generation Mindstorms NXT. It moved away from the traditional LEGO brick base to the more recent Technic type parts and replaced the last century infrared computer-to-LEGO communication with Bluetooth and USB. You can see my first generation RCX brick and current generation NXT control brick pictured here.
Robotics on a much larger scale (figuratively and literally) was also in the minds of a group at Microsoft. It released the Microsoft Robotics Studio in 2006. Microsoft’s Port25 has a two-part video interview with the Architect and General Manger of the Microsoft Robotics Group.
GM Tandy Trower mentions that the services made available by the architecture can be used by any .Net aware language including IronPython.