Automated hardware testing of Surface with Patty the robot

There's only one thing we love more than software patent arguments, the prospect of Windows 8 and C++ here at developerFusion: robots. And have we got a good one for you this week: robots and Microsoft Surface combined.

Microsoft's robot called "Patty" sits inside the Surface testing lab at Microsoft HQ in Redmond. Its purpose is very simple - how do you test one of the brand new Surface 2.0 devices to make sure it can cope with all of the gestures, touches and more that the device will have to handle, while stress testing it over its lifetime?

Patty solves this problem by encorporating 80 touch "fingers", actuated by pressurised air. These can be rotated in four sections to create multi-touch gestures on the surface. It can even simulate "entire classes" of people, for example students, using the device at the same time. Additionally the robot is capable of moving across the plane of the Surface device to actuate anywhere on the surface.

The testing team also had to put together the software to control the various components of the robot, and to provide a nice interface to make for substantially easier test development.

Find out more about the robot in a video on the Surface blog.

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