Keynote Sponsor:

The State of Our Autonomous Vehicle Industry

Keynote Panel Discussion, Award & VIP Reception

Hosted By The Pittsburgh Robotics Network

Historic Moment and Industry Update

Join us for a historic gathering of founders and leaders from the top autonomous vehicle companies in the world, convening in Pittsburgh to discuss the status of their businesses, impact on the workforce, and current and future industry insights.

Award to Dr. William “Red” Whittaker

CMU’s Dr. William “Red” Whittaker will be recognized for the significant impact he has made on the global robotics and automation industry throughout his decades of influential leadership and mentoring to many of today’s successful commercial robotics business leaders.

New Robotics Cluster Profile Announced

Be the first to learn about the new Pittsburgh Robotics Cluster Profile report being released. This profile will focus on the Pittsburgh region’s unique position for fostering growth and opportunity in global robotics industries, and expands upon a report commissioned last year by the Regional Industrial Development Corporation called Forefront: Securing Pittsburgh’s Break-out Position in Autonomous Mobile Systems, which detailed Pittsburgh’s breakout position in autonomous mobile solutions.

Don Smith, President of the Regional Industrial Development Corporation (RIDC) will present a summary of the findings of the Forefront report during the event’s opening remarks.

Keynote Panel Featuring

Peter Rander, Ph.D., Co-Founder & President, Argo AI
Chris Urmson, Ph.D., Co-Founder & CEO, Aurora
Çetin Meriçli, Ph.D., Co-Founder & CEO, Locomation
Balajee Kannan, Ph.D., VP of Technical Programs, Motional
Kevin Peterson, Head of Perception, Waymo Via

Panel discussion will be moderated by Joel Reed, Executive Director, Pittsburgh Robotics Network.

This special event is the official launch of the Pittsburgh Robotics Network’s new Industry Insights Speaker Series. This event is an unparalleled and historic opportunity to hear directly from the founders and business leaders who are leading the autonomous vehicle industry. Pittsburgh is the birthplace of autonomous robotics, and these companies are trailblazing a new generation of products, solutions and services to solve real-world problems across all industries.


Thursday, April 21, 2022


New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square E, Pittsburgh, PA 15212


General Admission 

3:15pm - Doors Open, Networking

4:00pm - Welcome, Keynote Remarks & Award

4:30pm - Panel Discussion

5:30pm - Session Ends

VIP Reception*

5:30pm - VIP Networking & Cocktail Reception

7:30pm - Reception Ends
*not included with General Admission, separate ticket required

Pittsburgh Robotics Impact Award

Dr. William (Red) Whittaker will be honored with an award for the significant impact his leadership has had on growing and advancing the robotics industry.

Dr. William (Red) Whittaker

Dr. William (Red) Whittaker

Dr. William “Red” Whittaker is is the Fredkin professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. He has developed dozens of robots, breaking new ground in autonomous vehicles, field robotics, space exploration, mining and agriculture. Whittaker developed the robots that cleaned up the Three-Mile Island nuclear accident. His ground vehicles have driven thousands of autonomous miles. Whittaker won DARPA's $2 million Urban Challenge. His HUMVEEs finished second and third in DARPA's Grand Challenge desert race. Whittaker is competing for the $20-million Google Lunar X Prize for privately landing a robot on the moon.

Whittaker is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He is a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, and served on the National Academy of Sciences Space Studies Board. Science Digest named Whittaker one of the top 100 U.S. innovators for his work in robotics. He has been recognized by Aviation Week & Space Technology and Design News magazines for outstanding achievement. Fortune named him a “Hero of U.S. Manufacturing”. Whittaker received the Alan Newell Medal for Research Excellence. He received the Teare Award for teaching excellence. He received the Joseph Engelberger Award for outstanding achievement in robotics. Whittaker received the Feigenbaum Prize for his contributions to machine intelligence.

Meet Our Panelists

Peter Rander, Ph.D.

Peter Rander, Ph.D.

Peter is a seasoned leader in the development of complex, autonomy-enabled systems, as well as the organizations that build those systems. Passionate to see robotics technology change the world, Peter has consistently pursued opportunities to help make that change happen, from working on a number of commercialization projects at the National Robotics Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon University, to being part of the formative team that launched Uber’s self-driving car efforts. His core robotics work spans computer vision, perception, path planning and control, and simulation-based robotic system development and testing. He has also led numerous human-centric robotic interface programs that leverage underlying autonomy technologies to aid human operators at multiple levels of interaction. Peter holds a master’s degree (1993) and a Ph.D. (1998) in electrical and computer engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a bachelor’s degree (1991) in electrical engineering from the University of Detroit-Mercy.

Chris Urmson, Ph.D.

Chris Urmson, Ph.D.

Chris Urmson was a co-founder of Aurora and has served as Chief Executive Officer and a member of the board of directors at Aurora since its formation in 2017. Prior to founding Aurora, Mr. Urmson helped build Google's self-driving program from 2009 to 2016 and served as Chief Technology Officer of the group. Mr. Urmson has over 15 years of experience leading automated vehicle programs. He was the Director of Technology for Carnegie Mellon's DARPA Grand and Urban Challenge Teams, which placed second and third in 2005, and first in 2007. Mr. Urmson earned his Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University and his BEng in Computer Engineering from the University of Manitoba. Mr. Urmson currently serves on Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science Dean's Advisory Board. Mr. Urmson also currently serves on the board of directors for Edge Case Research, a company working to assure the safety of autonomous systems for real world deployment. Additionally, he is on the Veoneer Technical Advisory Board, and the Shell New Energies External Advisory Board. Mr. Urmson has authored over 50 publications and is a prolific inventor.

Çetin Meriçli, Ph.D

Çetin Meriçli, Ph.D

Çetin Meriçli, Ph.D. is a co-founder and the CEO of Locomation. Formerly a Special Faculty – Commercialization Specialist at the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) of Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, Dr. Meriçli has over 15 years of experience in developing and deploying complex robotic systems for real-world applications – and he has played key roles in over a dozen high profile applied robotics projects. His expertise can be read in over 40 publications on subjects covering his accomplishments including safe and efficient machine learning for robust robot autonomy and perception, robot learning from human demonstration and feedback, interactive learning, sliding autonomy through learning, long-term autonomy and lifelong learning, data-driven high-fidelity robot simulation, human-robot interaction, probabilistic robotics, multi-robot coordination and planning, and software engineering practices for robot software development.

Balajee Kannan, Ph.D.

Balajee Kannan, Ph.D.

Balajee Kannan serves as Vice President of Technical Programs at Motional, an autonomous driving joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv. Motional is developing and commercializing Level 4 robotaxis. Prior to Motional, Kannan served in technical program management roles at Argo AI and Amazon. He also held senior scientist and research engineering positions within robotics at GE Global Research and Carnegie Mellon University. Kannan has a PhD in Robotics from the University of Tennessee. 

Kevin Peterson

Kevin Peterson

Kevin is one of the world’s leading experts in autonomous vehicle design systems and robotics technology. He has worked on multiple autonomous systems, including vehicles for unexploded ordinance survey, high-speed desert and urban driving, and naval operations. Under Kevin’s leadership, the team at Marble builds robots that are capable ofseamlessly navigating complex environments and routing materials to their destination.

Prior to founding Marble, Kevin was the CTO of Astrobotic Technology, where he partnered with NASA to design and build spacecraft to land on both the Moon and Mars. He developed innovative techniques for asteroid mining, precision landing on the Moon, and camera-only navigation between planets. Kevin was part of Astrobotic's Google Lunar XPRIZE team, which demonstrated advanced capabilities for landing, roving, and imaging on the lunar surface. Kevin was also a member of the DARPA Urban Challenge winning team, helping build the first autonomous car to successfully drive itself in traffic. His work has been featured in several books and documentaries. including “Autonomy: The Quest to Build the Driverless Car,” NOVA’s “The Great Robot Race,” and Morgan Friedman’s “The New Space Race."

Thank You To Our Sponsors!

Keynote Sponsor

Diamond Sponsor

Supporting Sponsor

Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsorships for this event are available and can offer your business significant benefits. We welcome your inquiry, so contact us today!

Event FAQs

New Hazlett Covid-19 Vaccination Policy

The New Hazlett Theater requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the event date upon entry. This is REQUIRED for admittance into the building. Entry will be denied for guests who do not provide the required documentation. Please view the venue’s full Covid-19 Policy details on their website here -

Dress Code

The dress code for this event is 'smart casual' business attire. The press will be there capturing photos and video footage, so dress in a way that you are comfortable being photographed.

Onsite Arrival

This event is located at the New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square E, Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Upon arrival, please be prepared to present your e-ticket (via mobile device) at the box office check-in desk. Doors will open at 3:15pm for Networking and Box Office Check-in.


Metered street parking is available in nearby marked spaces. Garage parking is also available nearby (for a fee) in the Nova Place Garage using the Gate 4 visitor entrance, located via South Commons. View information about garage parking and fees here -


General Admission tickets include access to the theater lobby and the stage presentation portion of the event, 3:15pm to 5:30pm (no food or beverages provided.) The VIP Reception ticketed guests have access to full open bar and heavy hors
d'oeuvres, provided during the reception immediately following the stage presentation, 5:30pm to 7:30pm.

Photo & Video Disclaimer

Video footage and/or photos will be taken during this event, which may or may not include your recognizable image. Please be advised, by registering for this event, you permit the Pittsburgh Robotics Network (PRN) to use the images in print, digital or web-based formats in publications or other media material produced, used or contracted by the PRN for promotional and/or archival purposes.

Contact Information

New Hazlett Theater Box Office: 412-320-4610,

For questions about the event Agenda, Program or Sponsorship, please contact:
Jennifer Apicella, Program Director,