Microsoft Offers Open Source Software For Training Drones And Other Devices

Posted: Feb 16 2017, 6:10am CST | by , in News | Technology News

Microsoft Offers Open Source Software for Training Drones and Other Devices

Software tools are to help development of autonomous systems

While humans can anticipate obstacles we need to overcome as we move through the world around us, such as doors, curbs, and wires, AI systems aren't very good at anticipating. Microsoft has been working on software that allows automated devices like drones to anticipate obstacles they they might encounter and plan a path around those obstacles.

Microsoft has now released the tools needed to help train and test drones, robots, and other devices for autonomous operation and those tools are offered via an open source license on GitHub. The microsoft software is part of a project called Arial Informatics and Robots Platform. The software includes tools for quick writing of code to control aerial robots and other gadgets., there are also very realistic simulators to collect data for training the AI system and testing it in the virtual word.

The Microsoft researchers developing the project home that the tools will spawn progress in creating AI devices. Ashish Kapoor, the lead researcher on the project, said, "The aspirational goal is really to build systems that can operate in the real world."

The simulation tosl are particularly important. Without simulation tools, the alternative would be the potential for crashing huge numbers of drones during development. The simulations take advantage of advanced graphics hardware, computing power, and algorithms to create much more realistic virtual views of the real environment.

"If you really want to do this high-fidelity perception work, you have to render the scene in very realistic detail – you have sun shining in your eyes, water on the street," said Shital Shah, a principal research software development engineer who has been a key developer of the simulator.

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