From Odin to DARwIn: Robot Evolution by Intelligent Design

Dennis Hong
Dennis Hong
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA
16:30~17:15, November 20th, 2014


Most mobile robots we see today utilize wheels or treads to move around. But why don’t we see such locomotion mechanisms in nature? Or a better question we should ask is: why don’t we use locomotion mechanisms used in nature for creating robots? Animals move in various ways; crawling, walking, jumping, and undulating to name a few. Inspired by biology, when and how should we apply these concepts to create robots with higher mobility? Bioinspiration does not mean simply copying ideas from nature, but rather learning the mechanisms behind it and being inspired by them to create novel concepts and solutions that go even beyond what we see in nature. In this talk, we present several biologically inspired mobile robots developed at RoMeLa (Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory) during the past decade, including a unique everting robot inspired by the motility mechanisms of amoebae, a rock climbing robot that uses matching behavior, an actuated spoke wheel system for unstructured environments, a hexapod crawler with dryadhesive feet for zero gravity space applications, an autonomous wheeled vehicle that can drive itself in the urban environment, a novel three legged robot that walks more like a human, a scaffolding climbing serpentine robot that rolls up to move, and autonomous bipedal humanoid robots that can even play a game of soccer. The ability of robots created with bioinspiration can go even beyond that of animals in nature.


Education & Experience

  • Affiliate Professor, Virginia Tech, Mechanical Engineering
  • Director, UCLA RoMeLa: Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory
  • Affiliate Professor, Virginia Tech
  • Purdue Univ. MS, Mechanical Engineering
  • Purdue Univ. PhD, Mechanical Engineering
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, BS, Mechanical Engineering
  • NSF CAREER award, National Science Foundation, 2007
  • SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, SAE, 2009
  • Brilliant 10, Popular Science, 2009


Speech History

  • TED Conferance( Califonia, USA)
  • World Science Festival / 2010 , 2012, 2013
  • Chicago Ideas Week / 2012
  • Chicago Ideas Week / 2012
  • VISION 2020: Youth Leadership Forum / 2012