Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition

The Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) is a not-for-profit research institute of the State University System of Florida, with locations in Pensacola and Ocala, Florida. IHMC scientists and engineers investigate a broad range of topics related to building systems aimed at amplifying and extending human cognitive, physical and perceptual capacities.[1][2]

IHMC Levin Center

Research & SponsorsEdit

IHMC is focused on developing science and technology aimed at leveraging and extending human cognition, perception, locomotion, performance, and resilience. IHMC research falls under three primary areas of scientific inquiry, with collaboration among them: (1) Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning; (2) Robotics; and (3) Healthspan, Resilience & Performance.[3] Within and across these primary areas, IHMC’s active research is focused on: human/machine teaming; robotics; exoskeletons; agile and distributed computing; cybersecurity; mechanisms of resilience and optimal performance; interventions to optimize health, resilience and performance; computational biology; human-machine communication & natural language understanding; intentions, beliefs & trust; knowledge discovery, data science, learning from big data; expertise studies; augmentics; and visualization & human-centered displays.[4] Robotics research includes Humanoid Robots and Avatars, Powered Exoskeltons for Paraplegic Mobility, Bipedal and quadrupedal walking, and Human-machine system design.[5]

Federal government research sponsors include the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Army Research Laboratory (ARL), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Naval Research (ONR) as well as other agencies and departments. In addition to government sponsored research, IHMC collaborates with numerous corporate partners.[6]


IHMC was founded by Dr. Kenneth M. Ford, Dr. Alberto Cañas, and Dr. Bruce Dunn on the campus of the University of West Florida, in 1990. IHMC was among the first interdisciplinary academic research institutions that allowed computer scientists, philosophers, and cognitive psychologists to collaborate on human centered computing projects.[7] IHMC was an early pioneer in human-centered AI, computer-mediated learning, knowledge-based systems and knowledge acquisition, natural language understanding, as well as the philosophical foundations of AI. Early IHMC researchers include Henry E. Kyburg Jr., Clark Glymour, Pat Hayes, James F. Allen, Robert Hoffman, and Joseph D. Novak.[8]

Over the years, IHMC has developed three core pillars of research: artificial intelligence, robotics, and human performance and resilience. These three research pillars continue to support the original research goal of IHMC, that being to employ science and technology to extend human capabilities.[9]

In 2004, the Florida Legislature, under the K-20 Education Code, established IHMC as an independent, statewide research institute.[10] IHMC maintains research affiliations with multiple Florida universities.[11]

In January 2010, IHMC opened a 28,000 square foot research site in Ocala, Florida, strategically located near three major university research partners as well as the central Florida technology corridor. IHMC’s Ocala facilities support computer scientists, engineers, and linguists engaged in research spanning machine learning, natural language understanding, natural language understanding for social cybersecurity, and speech analysis for physiological state determination.[12][13]

In 2010 IHMC had been recognized by the U.S. Economic Development Administration for the institute's impact on downtown Pensacola.[14]

The profile of IHMC’s robotics program was enhanced by the team’s participation in the DARPA Robotics Challenge which involved a series of global robotics competitions. This three-year competition pushed humanoid robotics to the realm of usability for first responders in disaster scenarios, partly motivated by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The Virtual Robotics Challenge, the first of these challenges, saw 26 international teams work to program a virtual humanoid robot avatar to complete multiple tasks modeled after real world challenges that first responders experience.[15] The IHMC Robotics team finished first in the Virtual Robotics Challenge, putting the team among eight groups awarded an Atlas robot built by Boston Dynamics and funding to compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge. In December 2012 the IHMC Robotics team placed second overall in phase two, the DARPA Robotics Trials, and were awarded the funding to compete in the final, three-year leg of the competition.[16][17][18][19][20][21] On June 8, 2015, the IHMC team earned second place in the DARPA Robotics Challenge , overcoming a series of falls on the first day of the competition that left their Atlas robot with major structural damage.[22][23][24]

In 2016 IHMC completed construction on the award winning Levin Center for IHMC Research 30,000-square-foot building with expanded laboratories, research areas and offices.[25][26]

IHMC's paraplegic mobility research team participated in the inaugural Cybathlon in 2016. The Cybathlon was the worlds first international competition for cyber-assisted athletes, and like the Olympics takes place every four years. Exoskeleton pilot Mark Daniel utilized IHMC's fourth paraplegic mobility device MinaV2 to compete in Cybathlon 2016 and the Quix Mobility Platform developed for the Mobility Unlimited Challenge sponsored by the Toyota Mobility Foundation to compete in the Cybathlon 2020.[27][28][29]

In 2022, IHMC announced plans to build a third building on the Pensacola campus to act as a research hub for human healthspan, resilience and performance research. This effort, funded in part by a grant from Triumph Gulf Coast will help diversify and strengthen the region’s economy. Triumph Gulf Coast is responsible for spending $1.5 billion in BP money in Northwest Florida. It was created in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.[30]

Scientific and technical staffEdit

IHMC is home to more than 120 researchers and staff, many of whom are leading figures in their research fields.[31] Six researchers associated with IHMC have been elected as fellows at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.[32] Four people affiliated with IHMC have been inducted as fellows into the National Academy of Inventors.[33] In 2015, IHMC senior research scientist Jerry Pratt was inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame, followed in 2017 by IHMC Director Kenneth M. Ford.[34][35]


IHMC researchers and staff occupy research facilities spread across more than 75,000 square feet of research and administrative space in downtown Pensacola and Ocala, Florida.[36]


IHMC sponsors a number of outreach efforts in the community. These include the public Evening Lecture Series, Science Saturdays, and robotics open houses and summer camps.[37]

The Evening Lecture Series hosts notable speakers and subject-matter experts. In 2011, the Evening Lecture Series was recognized by STEMflorida Inc., a not-for-profit group that promotes science, technology, engineering and math education. Past lectures are available on YouTube as a community resource.[38]

STEM-Talk is a bi-weekly podcast produced by the institute. As of March 2022, there are 132 episodes with subjects discussing a variety of topics across the breadth of science, engineering, and medicine.[39]

STEM-Talk received the 2017 & 2019 Skeptics Guide to Science & Medicine award from the People's Choice Podcast Awards,[40] and was nominated for the 2019 Science & Education Webby Award.[41]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Manning up: IHMC Explores the Intersection of Man and Machine." January 2013. AUVSI Magazine.
  2. ^ Hamilton, Scott. "Thinking Outside the Box at the IHMC". Computer, January 2001. (Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society Press).
  3. ^ About IHMC
  4. ^ "Research".
  5. ^ "Robotics, Exoskeletons, & Human Robotic Interdependence".
  6. ^ "The IHMC Story".
  7. ^ Kenneth M. Ford, et al. "Coordinating Behavior of Distributed Systems," AI Magazine, Summer 2010. Also: State University System of Florida, Board of Governors; online publication.
  8. ^ https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=[bare URL PDF]
  9. ^ IHMC Research Article PNJ
  10. ^ Florida Statute 1004.447.
  11. ^ State University System of Florida, Board of Governors. Online publication.
  12. ^ Barnett, Cynthia. "Human, Machine Research Institute Joins Ocala's Downtown". Florida Trend. Summer 2010.
  13. ^ IHMC Story
  14. ^ U.S. Economic Development Administration / U.S. Department of Commerce; online publication.
  15. ^ "DARPA's Virtual Robotics Challenge: OSRF Gets Simulator Ready". 3 June 2013.
  16. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: IHMC Robotics DRC Trials. YouTube.
  17. ^ https://www.ocala.com/article/LK/20130704/news/604143826/OS/
  18. ^ "DARPA Announces Eight Robotics Challenge Trials Winners". 7 January 2014.
  19. ^ Markoff, John (2013-12-22). "Japanese Team Dominates Competition to Create Generation of Rescue Robots". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  20. ^ Davis, Brett. "Robots Open Doors and Drive Cars and Chop Through Walls And..." Unmanned Systems Magazine, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, September 2013. Also: "Robotics Challenge Teams to Compete for $2 Million Top Prize." AUVSI News. Mar 5, 2015.
  21. ^ "Team IHMC's Lessons Learned from the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials". Journal of Field Robotics. March 2015.
  22. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: The 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals. YouTube.
  23. ^ "DARPA Robotics Challenge: A Compilation of Robots Falling Down". 6 June 2015.
  24. ^ "June 8th, 2015 | Vol. 185, No. 21 | Asia, Europe, Middle East, and Africa, South Pacific | TIME".
  25. ^ "IHMC breaks ground on new 30,000-square-foot-building." Pensacola News Journal. (Feb. 9, 2015).
  26. ^ "Levin Center for IHMC Research wins People's Choice award – Rick's Blog". 29 July 2018.
  27. ^ "The Cybathlon: Where Paraplegics Walk Again".
  28. ^ "Cybathlon".
  29. ^ https://mobilityunlimited.org
  30. ^ IHMC Expansion
  31. ^ Kenneth M. Ford, et al. "Coordinating Behavior of Distributed Systems." AI Magazine. Summer 2010. Also: "People / Scientific and Technical". IHMC web page.
  32. ^ Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. The Fellows List. http://www.aaai.org/Awards/fellows-current.php.
  33. ^ National Academy of Inventors. NAI Fellows List. http://www.academyofinventors.org.
  34. ^ "2015 Inductees".
  35. ^ "2017 Inductees".
  36. ^ "$20M IHMC research facility could connect Pensacola's historic and downtown districts".
  37. ^ National Robotics Week web site; 2015 Events; iRobot Corp. http://www.nationalroboticsweek.org/events.php Archived 2015-04-10 at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ "TheIHMC - YouTube". YouTube.
  39. ^ "STEM-Talk".
  40. ^ https://www.podcastawards.com
  41. ^ "NEW Webby Gallery + Index".

Further reading and viewingEdit

External linksEdit