Though the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, Pennsylvania has seen early success and was one of three states recognized by the CDC for “COVID-19 Reduction Success” with a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases for more than 42 days. Allegheny County is currently in the state’s green phase, which allows businesses to resume some in-person operations with pandemic safety restrictions in place, but still encourages remote operations whenever possible.
Despite COVID-19, start-up funding has continued in Pittsburgh with InnovationWorks virtually hosting their annual AI & Robotics Venture Fair. Joel Reed, PRN Executive Director, participating in the event, showcasing the strength of Pittsburgh’s robotics ecosystem.
Pittsburgh universities are working through plans for the fall semester, with most, including Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, planning to use a hybrid model of in-person and virtual learning.
PRN Member Headlines
NASA awarded Astrobotic with $200 million for a key lunar mission, which will hunt for deposits of frozen water the moon. Astrobotic will be responsible for launching the rover, called VIPER, and landing it near the moon’s south pole in late 2023.
“The VIPER rover and the commercial partnership that will deliver it to the Moon are a prime example of how the scientific community and U.S. industry are making NASA’s lunar exploration vision a reality.” – Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator
The Pittsburgh robotics ecosystem was well-represented in the 2020 RBR50 Robotics Innovation Awards with the following Pittsburgh companies recognized: Agility Robotics, ARM Institute, and Bossa Nova Robotics. Read more here.
“The fact that the ARM Institute is co-located with Carnegie Mellon University’s Manufacturing Futures Initiative makes it easier for ARM’s robotics and workforce projects to take advantage of manufacturing research incorporating artificial intelligence and other digital technologies. Finally, ARM’s new facility bolsters Pittsburgh’s regional robotics capabilities, and by extension, the global reputation of the Pittsburgh robotics cluster.” – Dan Kara
Argo AI will expand to Europe after Volkswagen Group finalized a $2.6 billion investment in Argo. The investment will also expand Argo’s workforce to 1,000 people.
IAM Robotics published a piece showing how the IAM team is adjusting to remote work during COVID-19 and keeping its manufacturing team safe when on-site at its new headquarters.
Fifth Season announced a new partnership with Mario Lemieux that will the company to expand its flagship location to produce and market more than 500,000 pounds of produce in the facility’s first year of full operation. Fifth Season will also have an expanded retail presence with Whole Foods Market and Giant Eagle, as well as offer new products as a result of the partnership.
A team from the University of Pittsburgh will participate in an autonomous vehicle competition where student teams work to develop self-driving cars that can operate at speeds of 200 mph, maneuver the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and outrace their opponents. The ambitious challenge sees significant presence from Pittsburgh with Ansys and Aptiv sponsoring the event. Pitt was also recently recognized as one of the best colleges for LGBT+ students.
In search of reliable infrastructure to keep humans safe, China has started more widely deploying robots for disinfection use, hospital support, and other functions. With COVID-19 completely changing our operations and showing what must be done for future pandemics, other nations may also look to robots to solve these challenges.
Pittsburgh Robotics Network News
At the beginning of June, we published a comprehensive story showing how the Pittsburgh robotics ecosystem responded to COVID-19 challenges. From rapidly pivoting to produce PPE to launching the first autonomous disinfecting in a U.S. airport, PRN member organization leveraged the city’s expertise and collaborative spirit to catalyze needed solutions. Read the full story here.
We also hosted a PRN Member-Exclusive webinar – Teleoperating a Robotics Company: Remote Hiring and Work in Pandemic Times and Beyond. Sponsored by IQ Inc with supporting sponsor Aerotek, the webinar explored best practices for virtually recruiting, vetting, and onboarding potential new employees, and how PRN companies plan to approach remote work. Thank you to our speakers: Jean Pucek (moderator – IQ Inc), Amy Tisdale (panelist – RE2 Robotics), Jenn Gustin (panelist – InsideSherpa), Paige Bruce (panelist – Aerotek), and Eric Harty (panelist – Intelligrated).
In conjunction with our June webinar and in partnership with InnovatePGH, we also ran an advertising campaign highlighting open jobs with PRN Member companies. Click here to check out the landing page and view open jobs.