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RoboTurk helicopter to aid disaster recovery

Autonomous helicopter, developed with Microsoft's robotic software and in partnership with the Istanbul government, can capture video from a disaster site and stream it back to a command center.

A prototype of RoboTurk's control panel. Microsoft

Two Turkish engineers have built a prototype of an autonomous rescue helicopter equipped with Microsoft robotics and mapping software so that it can capture video of disaster sites and stream it back to command centers. The engineers Oguz Bayrakdar and Omer Celik began developing the robot, called RoboTurk, last year with the help of the Istanbul municipal government and Microsoft Robotics Group, which makes commercial software for autonomous applications that could range from a child's robotic Lego set to an unmanned helicopter.

It's an independent project from motivated developers, but RoboTurk is a boon for Microsoft's young robotics group. The robot, given commands from the ground, can take off and land with Bayrakdar's adaption of Microsoft's Robotic Studio; it can be directed to disaster sites with the help of Microsoft's Virtual Earth mapping tools; and it captures and streams video with the use of Windows' server software. That must be why Bayrakdar and Celik are featured at Microsoft's Windows Server launch Wednesday in Los Angeles.

RoboTurk will be commercially available to third parties, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman.