Pittsburgh: A World Leader in Robotics and AI

Some call it Roboburgh. Some call it Robotics Row. We call it Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh region is at the intersection of the best talent and the biggest names in tech, making us a world leader in robotics and autonomy.

AI began in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) as a trailblazer since the 1950s — in fact, esteemed faculty members, Herbert Simon and Allen Newell, invented the field of AI during their tenure. In 1989, CMU founded the world’s first doctoral program in robotics. Then and now, Pittsburgh remains home to some of the most prestigious robotics and AI programs in the world that are continuing to drive forward innovations that impact a global society.

Pittsburgh robotics companies include the world’s biggest names in the industry, like Aurora, Carnegie Robotics, Caterpillar, Gecko Robotics, Seegrid and Smith+Nephew. More than 100 organizations continue to shape the robotics industry and develop some of the world’s largest commercial centers for autonomous mobile systems. Some of the top AI companies in the world also have a presence in Pittsburgh, like Meta, Microsoft and Google.

The Pittsburgh region was one of the 21 awardees of the federal Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant awarded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. $62.7M is being invested in the region’s robotics cluster development through the adoption of new technologies in small and medium enterprises, upskilling and empowering workers to thrive in an innovation economy, and commercialization acceleration of our cluster’s inventions.

Pittsburgh, the birthplace of AI and a global leader in the growing robotics industry, is both an incubator and living laboratory for world-shaping technologies and digital transformations. 

100+

robotics companies

20+

academic and research centers

7,000+

robotics employment

What’s next is happening now in Pittsburgh

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network of innovators, educators, and industry leaders.

 

“If data science were a country, Pittsburgh would be the capital.”

Dr. Rebecca Nugent
– DR. REBECCA NUGENT
FIENBERG PROFESSOR OF STATISTICS & DATA SCIENCE AND DEPARTMENT HEAD, CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY

 

r&d ECOSYSTEM

NREC logo

NATIONAL ROBOTICS ENGINEERING CENTER (NREC)

NREC is an applied facility that operates within the CMU Robotics Institute and partners with government and industry clients to develop and commercialize robotics and AI systems solutions. It also educates K-12 and college students through the Robotics Academy.

ARM Institute logo

ADVANCED ROBOTICS FOR MANUFACTURING INSTITUTE (ARM)

ARM is a federally-funded public/private partnership and leading national collaborative in automation and robotics technology and education.

University of Pittsburgh logo

HUMAN ENGINEERING RESEARCH LABORATORIES (HERL)

HERL operates in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh and improves the mobility and function of people with disabilities through engineering in clinical research and medical rehabilitation.

Carnegie Mellon University logo

Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Innovation Center (RIC)

Currently in development, the RIC will provide CMU robotics researchers with the facilities and spaces needed to bridge the stages of foundational research, integration, iteration and commercialization.

 

  

Tech talent

#1

U.S. AI grad program

1st Ever

AI undergrad program

20+

academic & private research centers

$242M

annual computer & information science R&D expenditures (2022) 

13,000+

industry employment

2,443

robotics patents awarded (2008-2018)

Top 5

city for tech worker momentum (WSJ, 2023)

 

Key Investments

Jan 2017 Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute

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$46,000,000 Capital Investment

Founded by CMU in 2017 and received $250M in funding to establish itself as an independent nonprofit to lead robotics innovation and expertise to accelerate growth in Pittsburgh.

Jan 2017 Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute

Aug 2017 Aptiv

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100 New Jobs

Self-driving vehicle company – formerly Delphi Automotive PLC – with a local team of 200 employees focusing on the software and hardware of the company’s autonomous vehicles. Recently announced a $4B partnership with Hyundai Motor Group.

Aug 2017 Aptiv

Nov 2017 Petuum

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150 New Jobs

70-person artificial intelligence company raised $93M in Series B funding with plans to expand its team to 200 employees and build an internal sales and marketing team.

Nov 2017 Petuum

Feb 2018 Amazon

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125 New Jobs

Amazon and its cloud platform Amazon Web Services (AWS) are no strangers to enhancing AI applications and algorithms. Amazon opened a tech office in 2017 and plans to expand their workforce to 100 employees with a focus on Alexa voice technology/speech recognition and machine learning.

Feb 2018 Amazon

Mar 2018 Aurora Innovation

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200 New Jobs

Self-driving car startup – founded by Google and Tesla alumni – that has raised more than $530M in funding, partnered with Hyundai and Fiat Chrysler, and recently expanded into Texas to accelerate the development of self-driving trucks.

Mar 2018 Aurora Innovation

May 2018 Facebook AI Lab (now Meta)

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$15,000,000 Capital Investment

Two of Carnegie Mellon’s top AI + robotics researchers now lead one of social media’s newest AI labs in Pittsburgh on the university’s campus.

May 2018 Facebook AI Lab (now Meta)

Jun 2018 Bosch

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20 New Jobs

Partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to launch the Bosch Center for Artificial Intelligence (BCAI) Research Lab. Plans to build a team of up to 20 AI experts and invest $8M+ in CMU research through 2023.

Jun 2018 Bosch

Jun 2018 Agility Robotics

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Oregon-based company that develops robots that work alongside people in warehouses to expedite workflows expands in Pittsburgh in a former 45,000 SF warehouse building. The expansion comes on the heels of the company receiving an $8 million venture funding round.

Jun 2018 Agility Robotics

Aug 2018 Gecko Robotics

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105 New Jobs

Developer and operator of wall-climbing, infrastructure inspecting robots. Relocated in Pittsburgh in 2015 and landed $40M in funding to build out its safety and infrastructure monitoring services. Plans to hire 120 new employees.

Aug 2018 Gecko Robotics

Oct 2018 IAM Robotics (now Onward Robotics)

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61 New Jobs

Warehouse robotics startup spun out of CMU announced plans to expand in the Strip District, moving into a 30,000 SF facility – five times larger than its current space – with a headquarter offices, a showcase center and manufacturing space.

Oct 2018 IAM Robotics (now Onward Robotics)

Nov 2018 Voci Technologies (now Medallia)

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50 New Jobs

Speech-to-text startup raised $8M in Series B funding, moved to an 11,000 SF facility in the Strip District and doubled its staff in 2019. Recently acquired for $59M by Medallia.

Nov 2018 Voci Technologies (now Medallia)

Dec 2018 U.S. Army Artificial Intelligence Task Force

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10 New Jobs

U.S. Army established its Artificial Intelligence (AI) Task Force at Carnegie Mellon University; the task force consists of 20 people between Pittsburgh and D.C.

Dec 2018 U.S. Army Artificial Intelligence Task Force

Jan 2019 Ready AI

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4 New Jobs

The first teacher-friendly K-12 AI education startup launched in Pittsburgh in 2019. Owned and operated by Andrew Chen and WholeRen, another Pittsburgh-based education company.

Jan 2019 Ready AI

Mar 2019 Locomation

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Trucking tech platform that combines autonomy and driver augmentation. Its technology will allow a person to drive a lead truck while a follower truck operates in tandem autonomously.

Mar 2019 Locomation

Apr 2019 Fortive

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6 New Jobs

Washington state-based industrial company set up an AI and data analytics center, also known as “The Fort,” in Pittsburgh after purchasing Industrial Scientific earlier in 2017.

Apr 2019 Fortive

Jun 2019 Edge Case Research

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Lawrenceville-based Edge Case Research announces seed round of $7 million in investment funding towards an intelligent safety assessment platform for autonomous vehicle software that operates at the speed of modern machine learning development.

Jun 2019 Edge Case Research

Oct 2019 Honeywell Robotics

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Honeywell announced the spinout in 2019 with plans to establish an advanced technology center of excellence focused on robotics and AI development in Pittsburgh. Leased a 25,000 SF space in the Strip District with plans to hire engineers and designers.

Oct 2019 Honeywell Robotics

Dec 2019 Astrobotic

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140 New Jobs
$6,500,000 Capital Investment

Lunar tech company that went from unfamiliar to globally realized after landing a $200M contract to deliver a NASA moon rover in 2023. They’re now investing $6.5M to relocate to 47,000 SF building on the North Shore and creating 95 new jobs.

Dec 2019 Astrobotic

Dec 2019 Seegrid

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75 to 100 New Jobs

Leader in self-driving industrial vehicles raised $25 million in a round of equity funding. Expanded its teams by nearly 40% in 2020 with plans to continue to grow.

Dec 2019 Seegrid

Jan 2020 LegalSifter, Inc.

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Pittsburgh-based legal service AI startup will double its office space to nearly 3,500 SF by 2022 to accommodate its growing team.

Jan 2020 LegalSifter, Inc.

Jan 2020 Denso

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Japan-based automotive components manufacturer announced the opening of its Pittsburgh Innovation Lab, which will focus on autonomous driving research and AI development. The facility will be located in Pittsburgh’s Robotics Row alongside other cutting-edge companies.

Jan 2020 Denso

Aug 2020 Motional

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Formed as a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, Motional aims to commercialize an autonomous platform for use in autonomous vehicle fleet operations and by automotive manufacturers. The company is valued at $4 billion.

Aug 2020 Motional

Sep 2020 RE2 Robotics (now Sarcos)

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Developer and manufacturer of advanced mobile robotic systems, RE2 Robotics announced an expansion of its HQ in Pittsburgh, increasing its total space to 30,000 SF. The company plans to invest over $1 million in its production capabilities, including buying new machinery.

*Sarcos announced closure of its Pittsburgh offices in November 2023.

Sep 2020 RE2 Robotics (now Sarcos)

Jul 2021 Waymo

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Google’s former self-driving car project, Waymo, is expanding its presence in the eastern U.S. They will co-locate in Google’s space in Bakery Square and expect to hire about 20 engineers by year end.

Jul 2021 Waymo

Oct 2021 Thoro.ai

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A spinoff of Carnegie Robotics, Thoro.ai aims to commercialize its Autonomous Mobile Robotics technology for the cleaning and disinfection equipment industry. The autonomous robots are deployed at the Pittsburgh International Airport cleaning the floors in an ultra-efficient manner.

Oct 2021 Thoro.ai

Apr 2022 Google

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Search engine Google announced the expansion of its Pittsburgh offices in Bakery Square, putting its total footprint at 320,000 SF. Pittsburgh is host to 800 Google employees that are developing its AI solutions and advancing research in natural language processing, machine learning, image and video understanding and more.

Apr 2022 Google

Jul 2022 Michelin DDI

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French tire manufacturer Michelin acquired Pittsburgh-based RoadBotics Inc. to expand its North American presence and strengthen its expertise in AI technology. Michelin DDI will now be able to combine knowledge of tire/vehicle uses, driving behavior analysis, and computer vision expertise to support smarter and safer mobility.

Jul 2022 Michelin DDI

Oct 2022 Mapless AI

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Mapless AI is bringing its tech to Pittsburgh International Airport and testing an autonomous car-hailing service through the Allegheny County Airport Authority’s xBridge program, which brings early-stage tech companies to the region to conduct use cases in real time at the airport.

Oct 2022 Mapless AI

Sep 2023 Stack AV

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A new autonomous trucking business backed by SoftBank Group Corp., the company seeks to leverage its self-driving technology to improve efficiency and enhance safety in the trucking industry while also tackling supply chain challenges.

Sep 2023 Stack AV

ECOSYSTEM SUPPORT

Innovation Works logo

INNOVATION WORKS

Innovation Works is one of the most active early-stage investors in the U.S. with startup support programs. It has two nationally ranked accelerators – AlphaLab and AlphaLab Gear – that help hardware and software companies get off the ground.

Pittsburgh Technology Council logo

PITTSBURGH TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL

The Pittsburgh Technology Council supports the region’s technology-based companies with business development, talent retention, government relations and visibility services. 

INNOVATEPGH logo

INNOVATEPGH

InnovatePGH is a public/private partnership that elevates and accelerates Pittsburgh’s status as a global innovation city and supports the Innovation District in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood. 

Pittsburgh Robotics Network logo

PITTSBURGH ROBOTICS NETWORK

The Pittsburgh Robotics Network empowers and strengthens robotics companies in the Pittsburgh region and positions the ecosystem as an internationally recognized powerhouse.

Get To Know Pittsburgh

Connect with our experienced business investment leaders to learn more about why Pittsburgh is the perfect location to take your business to new heights.

Patty Horvatich
Senior Vice President, Business Investment

Global Connections

 

Startup Genome logo

Startup Genome, a global leader in ecosystem research, spotlights the Pittsburgh startup ecosystem as part of its network of 290+ ecosystems worldwide. Pittsburgh is ranked 23rd nationally and 31st globally in the top emerging ecosystems with its advanced manufacturing/robotics, life sciences and space tech sectors recognized. The region has also notably experienced 42.6% growth in ecosystem value, per Startup Genome.

PITTSBURGH AI AND ROBOTICS COMPANY SUCCESS STORIES

Pittsburgh, one of the top robotics and AI hubs in the United States, is home to several successful leaders in the industry. Read on to learn about more the success artificial intelligence and robotics companies have found in Pittsburgh.  

Medical technology machine

SMITH+NEPHEW

London-based portfolio medical technology company Smith+Nephew focuses on the repair, regeneration and replacement of soft and hard tissue through the invention and real-world application of new technologies across healthcare like orthopaedics, sports medicine & ENT and advanced wound management. In 2021, S+N opened a new facility in Pittsburgh focused on robotics technology, R&D and surgical training – advancing innovation in orthopaedic surgery.

Bosch office building located in Pittsburgh

BOSCH

This German multinational engineering and technology company has a Research and Technology Center in Pittsburgh that focuses on projects from cybersecurity to space exploration, including a NASA command station in their Robotics Row offices. Additionally, the Carnegie Bosch Institute (CBI) is at CMU.

Duolingo office building located in Pittsburgh, PA

DUOLINGO

Founded in Pittsburgh by Carnegie Mellon University professor and reCAPTCHA creator Luis von Ahn, this language-learning platform and app was Pittsburgh’s first unicorn (valued at more than $1 billion). The company, which utilizes generative AI tools, went public in July 2021 and achieved a valuation of $6.5 billion. From learning a foreign alphabet to having advanced conversations, Duolingo now helps the world communicate in over 40+ languages for free.

Robotic system

gecko robotics

Gecko’s offering combines wall-scaling robots, industry-leading sensors and an AI-powered data platform to ensure the availability, reliability and sustainability of its customer’s critical infrastructure. The company recently expanded with the opening of a new 70,000 SF HQ in 2022.

Carnegie Robotics office building located in Pittsburgh, PA

CARNEGIE robotics

Carnegie Robotics is a global leader in advanced robotics sensors, autonomy software and platforms for defense, maritime, agriculture, mining, infrastructure and energy sectors. The company doubled its Pittsburgh footprint in 2022, and is one of the longest-standing contributors to commercial field robotics in Pittsburgh and the world at large.

Five self-driving vehicles

AURORA

Aurora is delivering the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly and broadly. Its core AI technology, Aurora Driver, can be integrated into a broad set of vehicle types for autonomous driving. Aurora entered into an exclusive partnership with Continental AG for the first scalable buildout of the Aurora Driver in 2023. Aurora named Pittsburgh its corporate HQ in 2021, relocating from San Francisco, California.

 

 

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Patty Horvatich
Senior Vice President, Business Investment