pic: Team 548 simulator pic 2

Our programmers made this simulation in Microsoft robotics studio to help get our drivers train in the downtime between shipping the robot and the regionals. All it can do is drive but we made it insert blocks with variable weight and friction to simulate pushing. For more pics check out this link http://robostangs.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=4

What has been the drivers’ reaction to the program and how well do you think it compares to the driving of the actual robot? I think that many teams will utilize this tool and that if more teams start using programs similar to this and/or creating second bots that it is a definite cure to those 0-0 matches in the future hopefully.

Thanks for sharing that with us!

Wow! That looks amazing.

How does the program work, can you import from inventor/ 3ds max… or do you build the robot in this? Do you plug your joystick into the computer? We never get enough time driving or testing our robot.

I searched for info about this program, but couldn’t find it… can you send me a link? thanks!

It compares pretty well at driving the robot in real life in terms of being constrained by the viewpoint of behind the alliance station as well as being able to move the rack. It uses the AGEIA Phisx physics engine and can simulate tipping the robot on some of the ramp objects we made. Other than that its not that good for training our drivers because we haven’t put in enough time to figure out how to make a working end effector to pick up ringers for are other driver. The only thing we could really use to learn how to make this was some of the example files from Microsoft. There really aren’t to many forums and documents about the Microsoft robotics studio yet. Another problem this software poses with training our driver is that our robot has a gearshift button that switches it between a high-speed low torque and low speed high torque. We were able to switch between the two but not by joystick button. Our drivers have seen the sim and are impressed but haven’t gotten to use it too much because only one of our programmers has it on his laptop. The rest of our programmers don’t have laptops, don’t have laptops with a supported graphics card, or don’t want to put the software on their computer. Hopefully by next year Microsoft will have released more documentation or even a book to make their simulations easier to program. One cool thing about Microsoft robotics studio though is that if your robot controller is supported (FRC is not supported, or just hopefully not yet:) ) it will let you program it in Visual Studio 2005 in your language of choice. Thanks for showing your interest in our project.

This simulator is something you actually have to program in Visual Studio 2005 with the help of the Microsoft robotics studio component. You can program it in any one of the visual studio 2005 languages. I wanted our programmers to program it in visual basic because that’s the language I am most proficient in but we couldn’t really figure out how to make the software work. There aren’t a lot of examples and documents out there for you to use Microsoft robotics studio because its still a relatively new tool. We found some example files at msdn.microsoft.com in C# and that gave us a footing on how to use the software. So we used the example files and built the program from there. You are able to import .obj files from 3ds max but if they are to scale 3d models made in AutoCAD or inventor when you import them to 3ds max and export them to .obj files, the robotics simulator will blow them way out of proportion. You can use just about any joystick you can plug into your computer. Here is the link for Microsoft robot robotics studio: http://msdn.microsoft.com/robotics/

You will need a copy of visual studio 2005 to make your simulation, which costs quite a bit for the student developers wallet. But don’t worry. You can get an express(student/hobbyist) version of anyone of the visual studio development languages for free from Microsoft at this link: http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/express/

You can program the sim in any one of the Visual Studio 2005 languages but if you plan on learning how to by, or building your simulation off of the example files then you are going to need C#. Thanks for your interest in our project.

Have you tried any autonomous programming with the simulator? Is it actually possible to use the light/camera in this program or is it not possible at all? I’m about to start looking at this as an option to test my brand new auto mode for my robot but all I want is a general vision of how auto mode will work (i.e. not destroying components on the robot) nothing too realistic. Also, how complicated was it to program and how long would you say it would take to get something up and running?

I suppose anything is posible. Just remember that if your not familiar with this software or programing it, it will take time. We just had one of our programers get to work on our simulator. We didnt have enough time to program our elevator just the drive, and that isn’t even accurate because we have a 2 speed system on our robot. My answer is yes, you could put your autonomous mode into there but it may take more time than programing your autonomous itself. You probably would have more luck with just trial and error in real life.