May 28, 2019 · by Balaraman Venkatesan

Robots in Retail

How to Design and Create a Software Program for Robots

The advent of robots has impacted retail to a great extent. Their very existence has changed the shopping experience in a positive way. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of robots and how to design and create a software program for robots at a very high level.

Master of Inventory

Carnegie Mellon University’s research team developed an innovative robot called Andy Vision. It is designed as master of inventory to automate the common tasks normally performed by a retail clerk.

The robot is programmed with complex algorithms and a series of proximity sensors. As the mechanized worker, it roams the aisles and performs detailed inventory checks. Andy Vision scans each item on the shelves and updates the information in the database. It also investigates the stock and sends out procurement alerts if items are low or out of stock.

Customers can view the product detail via touch-screen with shelf-level interactive store map generated by the robot.  The retail staff can view the real-time inventory list on iPads.

Strong Analytics
Andy Vision scans the barcodes, product images and uses the information about the shape, size and color of an object to determine the product identity. It has strong visual merchandising skills. The robot determines which items belong to which shelves and is capable of sending out alerts if items are misplaced.

The research team displayed the robot at an Intel Research Labs event in San Francisco. Retail industry workers don’t have to worry about Andy Vision stealing jobs, but its ability to track inventory and help customers (most likely without a condescending attitude) will certainly make it a boon to store managers in the near future.

How to design and create a software program for robots

Microsoft’s Robotics Developer Studio (RDS) provides an integrated .NET development environment for designing, executing and debugging highly scalable concurrent distributed robotics applications. The primary programming language is C# and it requires the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system.

Four main components of RDS:

  1. CCR (Concurrency and Coordination Runtime)
  2. DSS (Decentralized Software Services)
  3. VPL (Visual Programming Language)
  4. VSE (Visual Simulation Environment)

CCR (Concurrency and Coordination Runtime)
CCR is a managed code library like DLL (Dynamically Linked Library) and is accessible from any language targeting the .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR).

It addresses the need for service-oriented applications to handle asynchronous (parallel) input from multiple robotics sensors and output to motors, actuators which can deal with concurrency and exploit parallel hardware.

DSS (Decentralized Software Services)
DSS is used to create service using service-oriented architecture (SOA) to access and respond to a robot’s state using a web browser or Windows-based application.

Its services are exposed as XML-documents which are accessible by both programmatically and through a web browser.

VPL (Visual Programming Language)
VPL is a drag-and-drop (dataflow-oriented) graphical development environment for consuming DSS Services. Instead of a control flow which is typically found in conventional programming, a dataflow program controls the designed (drag and dropped) components which are executed based on the arrival of data.

VSE (Visual Simulation Environment)
VSE provides an integrated simulation environment for creating and running simulations of robots and other entities using high-fidelity 3D rendering.

Links & Resources:

Click here to download Microsoft® Robotics Developer Studio 4, which is available for free.

Those interested may also pick up the Eddie Robot Platform, a $1,250 hardware kit designed to work with Microsoft’s standards and Robot Developer Studio 4. It can be used by both professional and non-professional developers, as well as hobbyists




Balaraman Venkatesan

Balaraman Venkatesan

Senior Programmer Analyst
Balaraman has over 12 years of professional experience in Software Application Design, Development, Testing, Implementing and Production support, and over seven years of retail domain experience.
Balaraman Venkatesan

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  • Balaji
    Posted at 09:47h, 30 May Reply

    Interesting to read Balaram . Nice work

    • Thiru Vikraman
      Posted at 04:02h, 31 May Reply

      Really great job !!! I wish u go ahead with Ur knowledge for all upcoming article to be successful and published in world wide.

  • Murali Krishnan
    Posted at 15:18h, 30 May Reply

    Interesting… Explained with simple words… Expecting more articles in the following days…

    • Sendilkumar D
      Posted at 07:48h, 01 June Reply

      Hi Balaraman, very nice article presented in simple words.

      As explained in the article invention of robot will not create job threat. Actually it is useful to eradicate human error and improve accuracy and work perfection. There by we may generate more productivity.

      Good work. Keep going further.
      All the best.

  • Ejou
    Posted at 00:15h, 31 May Reply

    Great Balaram,Keep going

  • R saravanakumar Raje
    Posted at 03:44h, 31 May Reply

    This is giving really good insight and thought provoking.

    Thank you balaram

  • Kannan Ravi
    Posted at 05:17h, 31 May Reply

    Great Balaram, it’s interesting to go through your article and very informative. Wish to see more such articles from you. All the best

  • Harihara Prasath
    Posted at 06:19h, 01 June Reply

    Good Post Balaram.

  • Jagathnivasan
    Posted at 07:06h, 01 June Reply

    Very good details on robotics and software behind , Very informative and hope will be useful for people learning robotics. Good luck for your technical writeups…Welcome Balaram !!!

    Posted at 11:54h, 01 June Reply

    Good article, Balaraman. Keep up the good work.

  • Jeevitha
    Posted at 12:50h, 01 June Reply

    Great job balaram!!! Wish you all success for your upcoming article & shine like a star as published in world wide

  • Sriram Krishnamoorthi
    Posted at 13:03h, 10 June Reply

    Balu, nice to read the article – interesting and thought provoking. Good job and keep going !!

  • Sriram Krishnamoorthi
    Posted at 15:38h, 10 June Reply

    Balaraman, Nice to read. Interesting and thought provoking. Keep going!!

  • Devanathan
    Posted at 16:54h, 14 June Reply

    Hi Bala Raman it was an excellent subject which u were choosen keep up your good show

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