Carnegie Mellon-led non profit received $250 million to create a new robotics institute

A new nonprofit run by Carnegie Mellon University will receive more than $250 million for a new robotics institute in Pittsburgh dubbed the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute, or ARM, the university announced today.

The award is primarily funded by the Department of Defense, which gave $80 million toward the new center. Another $173 million came from undisclosed partner organizations. The university did not respond to a late request for information on the undisclosed donors.

The money will be used to research and develop robotic technologies in the area of manufacturing, artificial intellegence, 3D printing and industrial robotics. The institute aims to help create 510,000 new manufacturing jobs in 10 years and find ways to use technology to increase worker productivity by 30 percent, according to ARM’s website.

The non profit will focus on manufacturing sectors that the institute says are best poised to use robotics, like the automotive, aerospace, electronics and textile industries.

Last November, over 150 experts from academia and industry published a significant paper, the U.S. Roadmap for Robotics, calling on Congress to allocate more federal funds for robotics research and to help ensure America remains a global leader in robotics and artifical intellegence, another stated aim of the new Carnegie Mellon institute.

Last month, the White House released a report noting that the U.S. will need a establish a stronger social safety net to help workers that will be eventually displaced by robots in the coming years. Automation has the potential to disrupt millions of American jobs, according the the White House’s assessment.

Earlier this week, Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s nonprofit, each donated $10 million to advance research in artifical intellegence in a fund that is being anchored by MIT’s Media Lab and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Carnegie Mellon is one of the most celebrated institutions for robotics in the country. In 2015, Uber raided the university’s robotics expertise; four professors and 36 researchers and technical staff left to work at the ride hailing company’s Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh. Uber later donated $5.5 million to the university to fund new faculty positions and graduate research.

The new $250 million award Carnegie Mellon received is likely the largest amount of money ever given to a university initiative for research on robotics.

Photo by Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images

Carnegie Mellon University awarded $250M for new advanced robotics institute

Carnegie Mellon University's status as a major hub for robotics is getting a huge boost from the U.S. Department of Defense in the form of more than $250 million to start a new advanced robotics manufacturing institute in Pittsburgh.

The DOD announced the award to American Robotics, a nonprofit led by Carnegie Mellon that includes more than 220 industry, government and academic partners throughout the country. The new institute will get $80 million from the DOD and $173 million from partner organizations.

"This new institute will provide significant benefits to the region and the nation, while creating enormous opportunities for CMU scholars and researchers, and new momentum for the university," said Carnegie Mellon President Subra Suresh, in a prepared statement. "The institute, in return, will benefit from CMU's expertise in technology, as well as its strengths in policy, ethics, and human interfaces that will ensure that new technologies work to benefit humankind."

Carnegie Mellon is touting the nine-figure funding as bolstering the university and the city as "at the center of a new wave of manufacturing, leveraging artificial intelligence, autonomy, 3-D printing and other emerging technologies to make industrial robotics more affordable for businesses of all sizes, adaptable for many uses, and able to achieve more."

The institute is expected to be initially housed at the National Robotics Engineering Center that is an affiliate of Carnegie Mellon in Lawrenceville.


Carnegie Mellon receives more than $250 million from DoD and partners to launch robotics initiative

On Friday, American Robotics, a nonprofit spearheaded by Carnegie Mellon University, was awarded more than $250 million to create a robotics institute in Pittsburgh.

American Robotics, which has over 220 partners across industry, academia, government, and nonprofit groups, received $80 million from the US Department of Defense (DoD) and $173 from other groups to lead the Advanced Robot Manufacturing Group (ARM). The award will put Pittsburgh in a position to capitalize on advanced technology in manufacturing, artificial intelligence, autonomy, 3D printing, and other technologies to create innovations in robotics.

"This new institute will provide significant benefits to the region and the nation, while creating enormous opportunities for CMU scholars and researchers, and new momentum for the university," said Carnegie Mellon President Subra Suresh in a press release. "The institute, in return, will benefit from CMU's expertise in technology, as well as its strengths in policy, ethics, and human interfaces that will ensure that new technologies work to benefit humankind."

The institute, said CMU Provost Farnam Jahanian in a press release, "will tap into CMU's research strengths...to bridge the gap between research, innovation and practice in the emerging field of advanced manufacturing."

At the heart of the announcement is the potential for job growth, as new jobs can be created with the US at the forefront of innovation in robotics manufacturing.

The ARM will work on defense and industry-related technology, focusing on "aerospace, automotive, electronics and textiles." It also will join the Manufacturing USA institute network, a convergence of industry, academia and government that works to ensure the US remains competitive in manufacturing.

While robotics are critical for defense and manufacturing, they are often expensive and difficult to program. Yet they are important for smaller manufacturers. ARM will attempt to address this barrier, finding solutions to better integrate robots across all different fields.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto called the history of his city an "overnight success story." After the steel industry went down, he said, the city came together. "We collaborate, we work together," he said, "across business, industry, and universities."

According to Carnegie Mellon professor Howie Choset, the ARM Institute has four goals: "to empower American workers to compete with low-wage workers abroad; create and sustain new jobs to secure US national prosperity; lower the technical, operational, and economic barriers for small- and medium-sized enterprises as well as large companies to adopt robotics technologies; and assert US leadership in advanced manufacturing," he said in the press release.

When Pittsburgh's industry collapsed, "we saw our city die," said Peduto. "But there were visionaries. We created the first program in the world in robotics. Pittsburgh survived because of partnerships."

The new institute, said Peduto, will help Pittsburgh rise again to a global level. "It wasn't steel that got us here," he said. "It was innovation."

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
  1. The nonprofit American Robotics received more than $250 million in funding to head the Advanced Manufacturing Institute in Pittsburgh.
  2. The institute will use Carnegie Mellon University's expertise in technology to ensure that "new technologies work to benefit humankind."
  3. The institute may have the potential to create new jobs through advanced tech in manufacturing, and through putting the US in the lead of innovation in manufacturing.

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