Microsoft’s plans to develop and new AI and robotics toolkit got underway at Build 2019 today. The company announced the first component for its new end-to-end solution. Available as a limited preview, the component allows the creation of intelligent tools using Azure and Microsoft’s AI services to run physical systems.

The announcement comes a week after Microsoft told VentureBeat that machine learning is the next leap in AI development.

“I think AI has to break away from being something that only AI experts can work on; otherwise the application of the AI and its impact on the world is going to be very limited. I think we have to get to the place where it’s not that 10,000 AI experts in the world are the only ones who can actually apply AI in different scenarios across many vertical domains,” Microsoft VP for Business AI Gurdeep Pall told VentureBeat a week ago.


Microsoft’s new AI centered platform will be focused on a specific area at first. At Build 2019, the company said it is working on search-and-rescue machine learning robots for Sarcos. Furthermore, autonomous forklifts built by Toyota will also leverage the solution.

“Machines have been progressing on a path from being completely manual to having a fixed automated function to becoming intelligent where they can actually deal with real-world situations themselves,” said Gurdeep Pall, Microsoft vice president for Business AI. “We want to help accelerate that journey, without requiring our customers to have an army of AI experts.”


Interestingly, Microsoft can use its own existing services to create the toolkit. For example, Azure IoT, simulation software AirSim, ROS, and Bonsai are all used within the platform. The latter specializes in AI robotics and was acquired by Microsoft las year.

“Microsoft’s vision is to help other types of companies — from smart building and energy companies to industrial manufacturers — achieve these incremental steps towards autonomy in their own industries,” the company said in a blog post today.