Microsoft open-sources crash test simulator for virtual drones

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The Microsoft simulator is the latest among many tools as it makes available a beta version of a new simulator for robots and drones.

Microsoft says that it hopes to help the "democratization of robotics" with the move, which will assist individuals, researchers and companies with testing of systems that would otherwise be impossible, or too resource-intensive for them to do on their own.

The cost effectiveness of such a simulator means developers and researchers can quickly iterate and use the data gathered from crashes and other interactions to "teach" AI how to react safely in a variety of similar situations.

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In recent years, Microsoft has been sharing valuable tools to the open source community. The microsoft software is part of a project called Arial Informatics and Robots Platform.

Microsoft has put the entire tool free of charge on GitHub.

Microsoft researcher and project lead Ashish Kapoor said: "The aspirational goal is really to build systems that can operate in the real world".

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Microsoft claims that the simulator is built on photorealistic technologies that can accurately render things such as shadows and reflections with high precision.

It's worth noting that the software isn't created to entirely replace real-world testing, but rather to complement it by allowing you to simulate a wide range of experiments on demand and as many times as necessary. In addition to first-person view from the drone, real-time object-depth and segmentation views are offered, and developers can collect valuable training data without putting hardware, cash or humans on the line. Microsoft sees its tech helping with all kinds of computer vision and machine learning code.

Of course, simulation also allows you to increase the volume and speed of your scenario testing and learning, and train up AI systems more efficiently.

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It is Aerial Informatics and Robotics Platform (AirSim), an application for Windows and Linux users that will allow us to generate virtual environments in which to test the operation of drones and robots. The AirSim platform also supports DJI and MavLink drones meaning developers do not need to go through the tedious task of writing separate codes, according to The Register.

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