PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The future is now and Pittsburgh is paving the way – worldwide – for robotics.

On the banks of the Allegheny River in Lawrenceville is Carnegie Mellon’s National Robotics and Engineering Center, known NREC.

It’s home to a robot named Chimp, self-driving cars and any number of mind-boggling bots whose development is destined to not only change the Pittsburgh economy, but our everyday lives.

The robotic center solves problems for companies throughout the world.

When a South African platinum mining company needed a bot to enter a mine after an explosion, CMU built its own mine in Lawrenceville to test out a bot.

So too, Chimp goes where humans cannot and roboticists say the robot could have been used in Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster to turn off valves in high levels of radiation.

“They discovered after the fact that if they could have sent someone or something to turn a valve — to cool down parts of the reactor — they would have prevented the whole disaster,” Jeff Legault said.

This year, Uber took special notice and hired away more than three dozen CMU roboticists and researchers. They have them working under wraps in a recently renovated foundry building in the Strip District on technologies like self-driving cars.

This is likely to be the trend going forward as companies seeking robotic solutions will move their development sites as close as to NREC as possible. Just this week, developers broke ground on a 182-apartment complex across the street.

“It means if you have an interest on robotics, you might want to move to Pittsburgh because that’s going to be the place to be,” Legault said.

The jaw-dropping work being done here will continue to draw them. Roboticists are currently developing this self-navigating boat for the Navy and safety systems like one that allows robots and humans to work together safely.

All of which only points to robots coming of age right here in Pittsburgh.

Going forward, robots will become more integrated into our everyday lives. Not only changing the way we live, but they’ll become a driving force in the Pittsburgh economy.

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