Test your drone or robot with Microsoft Research's new open source Aerial Informatics and Robotics Platform

Be it a Touchpad Tattoo, or sophisticated mosquito traps, Microsoft Research has always been known for projects which better both technology and science. Today, Redmond's research lab is at it again and has announced the release of a new open Aerial Informatics and Robotics Platform, which lets people test and train robots and drones in a virtual environment.

Overall, the project has the goal of bridging the simulator to reality gap. Using recent advances in computation and graphics, and incorporating physics and perception, the Aerial Informatics and Robotics Platform project also intends to provide realistic simulation and tools for designers and developers to seamlessly generate the large amounts of training data they need. According to Microsoft, this realism will ensure..

efficient testing of machine learned models by generating a vast quantity of ground truth data. The goal is to enable study and execution of complex missions that might be time-consuming and risky in the real-world. Collisions in a simulator cost virtually nothing and help us to gain a better understanding of methods implemented under various conditions.

As is expected, a project of this nature has its challenges, since a wide variety of software and hardware issues need to be supported. Fortunately, the Microsoft Research team designed a framework which follows a modular design to address these challenges.  Common robotic platforms such as the Robot Operating System, sensors, and high-frequency simulations also solve these problems. Additionally, since Quadrotors can be used across various fields like agriculture, surveillance, and weather, these vehicles were the first to be implemented in the platform.

If you're curious, you can head over to Microsoft's GitHub repository to check out the project, You also can discuss the project on Facebook, and read the full technical report here. Once you've checked everything out, let us know what you think by dropping us a comment below!

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