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Carnegie Mellon awarded $150 million to develop robotics research facility

The Richard King Mellon Foundation has awarded Carnegie Mellon University $150 million to support science and robotics research through the building of a new facility. 

Farnam Jahanian, CMU president, says: “Pittsburgh’s future – and the future of US innovation and global competitiveness – are inextricably linked to scientific and technological advances, and how well organizations, communities, and industries can stay ahead of the rapid pace of change.

“Carnegie Mellon is positioned at the forefront of science and innovation’s great promise, and this visionary grant will fuel the research and activities that will build this exciting future.

“The entire CMU community joins me in thanking the Richard King Mellon Foundation for this extraordinary grant and for its faith that CMU will continue to enhance the Mellon family’s legacy of investment in science, technology, and industry.

“This is yet another example of the Foundation’s visionary leadership delivering incalculable benefits to the Pittsburgh region and to the nation.”

Sam Reiman, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, says: “This historic investment will help Pittsburgh to control its economic destiny and to reassert its rightful place as the national leader in the most important industries of today and tomorrow, with access to everyone who wants to be part of the story.

“The Hazelwood community has been waiting for more than 18 years, since the J&L mill closed, for the site to become a source of jobs once again. And this past year reinforced the importance of local manufacturing to a healthy region.

“This historic investment is the first of many steps to achieve our vision of making Pittsburgh a global leader in advanced and additive manufacturing, robotics, and the creation of technology jobs that are accessible to the entire community.”

While the grant is for a wide variety of scientific research, as highlighted on, the robotics aspect is what interests this website.

Robotics Innovation Center

Carnegie Mellon has been the global pioneer in robotics research and education since it founded the first US university department devoted to the field in 1979.

Since then, CMU researchers have regularly developed robotics breakthroughs, from robots that perform critical tasks in the harshest conditions on earth to assistive technologies that enhance the daily lives of differently abled people to advanced visualization and perception systems that will be key for the safety and reliability of autonomous vehicles.

Over the past 10 years alone, robotics research expenditures at CMU have nearly doubled, and are expected to double again over the next decade.

The $45 million lead grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation will enable CMU to further expand its robotics research capacity with a new facility, the Robotics Innovation Center (RIC), at Hazelwood Green.

The RIC, which is estimated to cost more than $90 million and will add up to 150,000 square feet of space to CMU’s robotic research capabilities, will further create synergies by complementing and accelerating the work by the nearby Manufacturing Futures Institute at Mill 19, where researchers will be able to deploy new ideas within its test beds.

As a new translational research facility, the RIC will complement the work of CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC).

The new facility will provide CMU robotics researchers with spaces that will allow them to bridge the stages of foundational research, integration, iteration, and commercialization to ensure discoveries can be translated into real-world technologies.

Envisioned for the building are reconfigurable high bays, multiple testing facilities including a unique large-footprint testing area, and flexible spaces that address robotics systems at different scales.

The facility is expected to include pre-incubator space for the next generation of CMU-affiliated robotics companies.

Martial Hebert, dean of the School of Computer Science, says: “The technologies developed at the Robotics Innovation Center will ripple across every part of our society and economy, impacting fields including health care, transportation, national security, education, agriculture and retail.

“Through the RIC, the Manufacturing Futures Institute, and the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute, our Hazelwood Green hub will cement its reputation as a key location for technology innovation – attracting talent, partnerships, companies and investment that further build momentum for the region and industry.”

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