Dennis Hong

Roboticist, magician, chef and professor
Dennis Hong is a professor and the Founding Director of RoMeLa (Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory) at UCLA. His research focuses on robot locomotion and manipulation, autonomous vehicles and humanoid robots.

Why you should listen

In 1977, a six-year-old boy visiting Los Angeles from South Korea saw Star Wars for the first time. He gaped at the curious locomotion of R2-D2 and the human-robot interactions of C-3PO, and as he flew back home, Dennis Hong remembers, "I knew I was going to build robots for the rest of my life." Now he is living his dreams.

Dennis Hong is the inventor of a number of novel robots and mechanisms, including the ‘whole skin locomotion’ for mobile robots inspired by how amoeba move, a unique three-legged waking robot STriDER, and the world’s first car that can be driven by the blind. His work has been featured on numerous national and international media. Washington Post Magazine called Dr. Hong “the Leonardo da Vinci of robots.”

Dr. Hong has been named to Popular Science’s 8th annual “Brilliant 10”, honoring top scientists younger than 40 years of age from across the United States, “Forward Under 40” by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Alumni Association, and also honored as “Top 40 Under 40” alumni by Purdue University. Hong’s other past awards include the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award, the SAE International’s Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, and the ASME Freudenstein / GM Young Investigator Award to name a few.

Dr. Hong also actively leads student teams for various international robotics and design competitions winning numerous top prizes including the DARPA Urban Challenge where they won third place, and the RoboCup, the international autonomous robot soccer competition where his team won First Place five time in the Humanoid divisions and brought the Louis Vuitton Cup Best Humanoid Award to the United States for the very first time.

He is also a serious gourmet chef (MasterChef USA) and a magician (NETFLIX, Magic for Human) performing annual charity magic shows and lectures on the science of magic.

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, […]

Continue reading

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: […]

Continue reading