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Microsoft Wants To Be the Partner RoboCop Never Had

Microsoft is expading its partner program for robotics, and one partner thinks the software giant's technology could be a key to expanding the market.

RoboCop never really needed a partner in all those movies.* After all, the guy could deflect bullets.

But Microsoft has been working to expand its robotics program and, to do that, is looking to partner up with smart technical professionals in the IT channel. In fact, a half-dozen such companies have signed up with the Microsoft Robotics Studio Partner Program since mid-October, according to the Microsoft Robotics Studio Blog.

(Yes, they have a channel program for robotics and, yes, they have a blog.)

One of Microsoft Robotics Studio's partners is Barrett Technology, a Cambridge, Mass.-based spin-off of the Artificial Laboratory at M.I.T. Among other things, Barrett develops robotic arms, hands and robotics applications for a number of vertical markets.

The worldwide robotics market has actually been in decline. But Barrett, on its web site, says it is working to make its technology compatible with Microsoft's and that standards could lead the way to growth:

"The robotics industry has stagnated largely for lack of defacto compatibility standards for the past two decades," the company says. "The components exist to accomplish tasks far beyond where robotics is today, but the systems integration is daunting. By streamlining integration between various components ranging from mobile robotic platforms, to vision systems, to Barrett's manipulators and haptic interfaces, MSRS is becoming a key enabler for combining otherwise complex systems into solutions that address whole new classes of applications."

Barrett, for one, sees the promise Microsoft brings to the table in this area. (Then again, RoboCop never seemed to take 12 minutes to boot up, shut down or install a critical update.)

*Ok, for die-hard RoboCop fans the character did have a partner as a human cop, but technically he was a loner once he became part robot, part human.

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