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Virginia Tech Associate Professor, Roboticist to Speak at TED2011
February 4, 2011

Roboticist Dennis Hong, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, this March will speak at the TED2011 Conference in Long Beach, Calif. There, he will join the event stage with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford, and Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, giving the “18-minute talk of a lifetime,” as the world-renowned conference declares.

(Left to right) Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, speaks with Dennis Hong, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech and director of the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory. In this December 2010 image, they are preparing to test drive the latest Blind Driver Challenge vehicle at the Virginia International Raceway in Danville, Va.

Speakers for the TED2011 (originally called Technology Entertainment and Design) Conference were announced recently. TED is a global set of conferences hosted by the American private nonprofit Sapling Foundation, formed to disseminate “ideas worth spreading,” according to the group’s website. Prof. Hong, director of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering’s Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory, will focus his March 3rd talk on the Blind Driver Challenge project, an effort to allow blind people to one day drive, using non-visual interfaces, as safely as any sighted driver does now.

The TED talks, including that of Prof. Hong, will be available for online viewing. Tickets to the actual event were sold out months ago, said Prof. Hong. According to TED organizers, Web views of videos showing previous speakers have topped 290 million as of July 2010.

Prof. Hong 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.

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