Dennis Hong, CHARLI to appear at World Science Festival

CHARLI (Cognitive Humanoid Autonomous Robot with Learning Intelligence)

CHARLI (Cognitive Humanoid Autonomous Robot with Learning Intelligence)

BLACKSBURG, Va., June 2, 2010 – Virginia Tech robotics professor Dennis Hong and many of his robots, including the human-sized robot CHARLI, will appear at this week's World Science Festival, held in New York City.

CHARLI, now boasting the ability to talk, will introduce the panel speakers at the “Cool Jobs” seminar, which includes Hong.

Hong and his robots, along with students from Virginia Tech’s Robotics and Mechanics Laboratory also will appear at the festival’s “Street Fair.” There, CHARLI will interact with festival visitors throughout the day in an outdoor setting. Hong is director of the laboratory and an associate professor of mechanical engineering.

The festival is annual event designed to take “science out of the laboratory and into the streets, theaters, museum and public halls of New York, making the esoteric understandable and the familiar fascinating,” according to the group’s website.

It will feature well-known people from science, such as physicist Stephen Hawking and neurologist Oliver Sacks, and entertainment, including screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, who won an Academy Award for co-writing the film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

The Cool Jobs program, featuring Hong, will take place June 5 and focus on unusual but fun occupations such as hunting extraterrestrial life and the study of South African penguins.

CHARLI is the first untethered, autonomous, full-sized, walking, humanoid robot with four moving limbs and a head, built in the United States. His two long legs and arms can move and gesture, thanks to a unique combination of pulleys, springs, carbon fiber rods and actuators. Since CHARLI’s public debut in April, Hong and students at Robotics and Mechanics Laboratory have worked on the robot’s ability to speak and kick a soccer ball.

Hong was named as one of Popular Science’s Brilliant 10 for 2009. He received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and master’s and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering from Purdue University.