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MIT visiting scientist Kanako Miura died in a bicycle accident on May 19. Miura arrived at MIT last fall, and had been working in CSAIL’s Robot Locomotion Group.

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MIT visiting scientist died in traffic accident

Kanako Miura, 36, died on May 19 around 3:30 p.m. after being struck by a truck while biking through Kenmore Square. Miura was a visiting scientist in Professor Russ Tedrake’s Robot Locomotion Group in CSAIL.

MIT President L. Rafael Reif broke the news to the MIT community that same evening in an email to all of campus. “Our hearts go out to her friends and colleagues at MIT, and especially to the Miura family, who must absorb this terrible news from so far away,” wrote Reif.

The Boston Globe reported that the driver probably did not see Miura. They also reported that Miura, who was wearing a helmet, suffered from critical injuries after being thrown from her bike and passed away at the scene.

David Watson, executive director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, expressed the importance of awareness and safety in an interview with the Globe.

“Everybody at this point should know we need to share the roads,” he said. “Every­body bears responsibility for the safety of the people around them.”

Miura had been at MIT since October, conducting research in the Robot Locomotion Group and specializing in bipedal locomotion. She had two PhDs, one in Information Science from Tohoku University in Japan and another in Electronics and Automation from Université Louis-Pasteur France. As a senior researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, she worked on the HR-4C Future Dream robot, which had advanced locomotion capabilities such as being able to turn quickly and more accurately mimic human walking than other robots, according to an article in Akihabara News.

“She was not just a visitor in our group. She became a close friend and a member of our family,” said Tedrake in an article on her passing in CSAIL’s news website. “The energy she brought to her work was contagious, and her enthusiasm was easy to see. She loved giving tours and showing off the lab, and she had an unfailing optimism in the future and importance of humanoid robots.”

A memorial fund in her name has been established to fund CSAIL Robotics. Donations can be made through http://giving.mit.edu.

—Bruno B. F. Faviero