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Pittsburgh’s $4.3B robotics and AV industry, mapped

What are the region's 140+ robotics and autonomous systems companies and support organizations working on? Check out this new resource from Pittsburgh Robotics Network for an overview.

A closeup of a Gecko TOKA 4 robot climbing a tank. (Courtesy photo)
How much money have corporate and VC investors put into the future of Pittsburgh robotics companies? Around $4.3 billion in the last five years alone.

That’s according to a new resource from the Pittsburgh Robotics Network. The Pittsburgh Robotics Cluster Profile includes a 14-page report detailing the industry in addition to a landscape chart that shows the type of work all of the different local robotics firms are doing. Overall, it illustrates the more than 100 companies and over 40 supporting organizations working within the robotics and autonomous systems industries in Pittsburgh, demonstrating the massive growth of both in recent years.

Outside of the $4.3 billion investment volume, the report also shared that Pittsburgh’s talent base in the industry is responsible for over 9,000 annual graduates in relevant fields, with several coming from the top-ranked doctoral program in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. The companies based here are responsible for over 7,000 jobs directly in robotics and autonomous systems, and a total of over 14,000 servicing the entire sector. Those jobs come with a diverse range of tech skills, too, with the report pointing out that together, Pittsburgh’s robotics sector offers opportunities across the full tech stack and 18 distinct industry verticals.

The report also found that there had been around $491 million in recent ecosystem investments across research, development, testing, piloting, demonstration and more. Outside of that, $163 million in US federal research funds was invested in local robotics and autonomy research in Pittsburgh from 2015 to 2020.

“There is a long history for the [robotics and autonomous systems] sector here, built on the long-standing leadership of Carnegie Mellon University, combined with astonishing momentum in the development and growth of our robotics and autonomy industry,” Pittsburgh Robotics Network Executive Director Joel Reed wrote in the introduction of the cluster profile. “The region has an intellectual community that is on the bleeding-edge of robotics advancement and a proven track record in commercializing its R&D-based innovations.”

Chart of ecosystem element providers in Pittsburgh’s robotics and autonomous systems industry. (Screenshot by Sophie Burkholder)

The success of Pittsburgh’s robotics industry isn’t news, but the resource comes after the Pittsburgh Robotics Network joined similar organizations in Boston and Silicon Valley to create the United States Alliance of Robotics Clusters, and after the launch of a new signature event series from the network, which kicked off with an in-person autonomous vehicle executive panel event last month.

The Pittsburgh Robotics Cluster Profile provides yet another accessible resource to those both in and outside of Pittsburgh looking to learn more about investment and employment opportunities. InnovatePGH also published its own version of a local tech ecosystem profile earlier this spring with ASTRI.

Specifically, the Pittsburgh Robotics Network’s take on that approach is to comprehensively highlight every local company working in robotics or autonomy by providing a description for exactly what those firms do. This is best exhibited in the cluster landscape chart provided in the profile, which groups companies into one of six categories depending on their missions and product offerings: changing the way we live, changing the way we work, changing the way we move, conducting research, enabling autonomy, and building the ecosystem. A second version of the chart gets even more specific, grouping companies into labels describing their focus areas such as aerospace, construction, agriculture and manufacturing.

Beyond those details, the report also makes a case for the livability of Pittsburgh, with its many parks and cultural resources, as well as its growing intellectual leadership across local universities. That ecosystem, the report promises, will only continue to grow (as evidenced by Pittsburgh’s favorable standing in Startup Genome’s 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem Report).

“Those of us already here love it, and we expect you will too. Authentic, balanced, diverse, dynamic, fun and quite stunningly attractive (come and see) — Pittsburgh is a fabulous place to live and work,” Reed wrote in the report’s introduction. “We are organized and ready to help you discover the powerful opportunities, assets, and ecosystem that awaits you in the Pittsburgh region.”

Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
Companies: Pittsburgh Robotics Network

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