Dennis Hong is the founder and director of RoMeLa — a Virginia Tech robotics lab that has pioneered several breakthroughs in robot design and engineering.

Why you should listen

As director of a groundbreaking robotics lab, Dennis Hong guides his team of students through projects on robot locomotion and mechanism design, creating award-winning humanoid robots like DARwIn (Dynamic Anthropomorphic Robot with Intelligence). His team is known as RoMeLa (Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory) and operates at Virginia Tech.

Hong has also pioneered various innovations in soft-body robots, using a “whole-skin locomotion” as inspired by amoebae. Marrying robotics with biochemistry, he has been able to generate new types of motion with these ingenious forms. For his contributions to the field, Hong was selected as a NASA Summer Faculty Fellow in 2005, given the CAREER award by the National Science Foundation in 2007 and in 2009, named as one of Popular Science's Brilliant 10. He is also a gourmet chef and a magician, performing shows for charity and lecturing on the science of magic.

What others say

“I still cannot forget the mind-blowing sensation when I first watched the movie Star Wars. I was fascinated by R2D2 and C-3PO. Since then, I decided to become a robot scientist and never changed my mind.” — Dennis Hong

Dennis Hong’s TED talks

More news and ideas from Dennis Hong


Dennis Hong debuts a robot that dances to “Gangnam Style”

October 24, 2012

Dennis Hong shared seven species of robots in his talk at TEDxNASA 2009, from the soccer-playing DARwIn to the cliff-gripping CLIMBeR. In this new video, Hong — the director of the Virginia Tech robotics lab RoMeLa — introduces us to CHARLI, a lightweight robot designed to walk and move like a human. Or, you know, […]

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My seven species of robot: Dennis Hong on

April 7, 2010

At TEDxNASA, Dennis Hong introduces seven award-winnning, all-terrain robots — like the humanoid, soccer-playing DARwIn and the cliff-gripping CLIMBeR — all built by his team at RoMeLa, Virginia Tech. Watch to the end to hear the five creative secrets to his lab’s incredible technical success. (Recorded at TEDxNASA, September 2009 in Newport News, VA. Duration: […]

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