Robotics is one area where mechatronics is required and simulation is the norm. Often, multiple robots will take part in an event like RoboCup, where you might see Aldebaran Robotics’ Nao, a small humanoid robot.
Nao plays for real, but it also shows up in the virtual world of Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio (MRDS). Unlike most simulation environments, MRDS is specifically designed for robots. Entire robotic soccer games can be played in simulation, mixing the game realm with serious system design.
The 23-in. high Nao is a sophisticated little fellow with voice synthesis and a digital camera crammed into its small head. It has a Wi-Fi-enabled processor that runs Linux and Gotsai’s Urbi. It also has enough processing power to handle voice recognition as well as control the 25 joints found around its body.
Environments like MRDS are usually more limited on the hardware design side since it tends to be an application development tool more than a CAD design tool. Still, the ease of use available with a single environment is the goal of CAD/ programming combinations such as the LabVIEW and SolidWorks pairing.