Shinichi Hirai is head of the Hirai Laboratory for Integrated Machine Intelligence, Ritsumeikan University, Biwako-Kusatsu Campus, Kusatsu, Shiga, Japan. The lab was founded in 1996.
Hirai researches tensegrity as a new paradigm for robotic movement. The robots in Hirais lab consist of rigid elements connected by tensional members. Changing the tension, hence the length, of the tensional members yields locomotion over terrain.