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Microsoft Previews Toolkit for AI and Robotics


Microsoft Previews Toolkit for AI and Robotics


Microsoft Corp. continues to rack up impressive momentum in the cloud arena, a trend that it shifted into high gear at its annual Build developer conference.

The announcement at the developer conference in Seattle follows Microsoft’s declaration last week that machine teaching — the ability to endow AI with attributes from human professionals without code — as the next major frontier in AI.

Microsoft plans to build an end-to-end toolkit for AI and robotics. The platform’s first component- a limited preview program for building intelligent agents using Microsoft AI and Azure tools that can autonomously run physical systems was announced.

The platform is initially being used to accomplish tasks like search-and-rescue robot for the robotics company Sarcos and autonomous forklifts for Toyota.

The platform will rely on existing services such as Microsoft’s Azure IoT, reinforcement learning, AirSim to simulate actions, ROS, and tech from Bonsai, an enterprise AI startup acquired by Microsoft last year.

While its  popular Robot Operating System (ROS) was introduced for Windows 10 late last year the company’s blog post said :“Microsoft’s vision is to help other types of companies — from smart building and energy companies to industrial manufacturers — achieve these incremental steps towards autonomy in their own industries.”

After acquiring AI startup Bonsai, which specialized in reinforcement learning for autonomous systems, the company has announced the limited preview of a new Azure-based platform that is partially built on this acquisition and that will help developers train the models necessary to power these autonomous physical systems. “Machines have been progressing on a path from being completely manual to having a fixed automated function to becoming intelligent where they can actually deal with real-world situations themselves,” said Gurdeep Pall, Microsoft vice president for Business AI.

This new platform combines Microsoft’s tools for machine teaching and machine learning with simulation tools like Microsoft’s own AirSim or third-party simulators for training the models in a realistic but safe environment, and a number of the company’s IoT services and its open-source ROS.

Microsoft worked with customers like Toyota Material Handling to develop an intelligent and autonomous forklift, for example, as well as Sarcos, which builds a robot for remote visual inspections that are either unreachable or too dangerous for humans. Working with Microsoft, the company built a system that allows the robot to autonomously traverse obstacles, climb stairs and climb up metallic walls.

The principal Build announcements that distinguish Microsoft with edge application developers include:

  • Developing write-once, run-everywhere AI from cloud to edge,
  • Modeling AI-enriched edge applications for transparent cross-edge deployment,
  • Autolearning edge-application business logic,
  • Simplifying edge business-logic governance via distributed blockchain tech,
  • Building and tuning fully autonomous edge apps.

Microsoft continues pushing the intelligent edge forward!

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Cite this article as: Vidi Nene, "Microsoft Previews Toolkit for AI and Robotics," in, May 8, 2019,

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