About - The Robotics Institute Carnegie Mellon University

About The Robotics Institute

Founded in Partnership with Westinghouse
Square Feet of Facilities

Pioneering that Continues Today

Even when robotics technologies were relatively primitive, their potential role in boosting the productivity and competitiveness of the United States was foreseen in the evolving global marketplace.

The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University was established in 1979 to conduct basic and applied research in robotics technologies relevant to industrial and societal tasks. Seeking to combine the practical and the theoretical, the Robotics Institute has diversified its efforts and approaches to robotics science while retaining its original goal of realizing the potential of the robotics field. The facility includes approximately 100,000 square feet at the main Pittsburgh campus, another 100,000 square feet at the National Robotics Engineering Center in Lawrenceville and growing.

Howie Choset and sttudents in his lab
Current Faculty, Staff, Students, Post-Docs and Visitors


We are proud of the open, friendly culture that has been the hallmark of the Robotics Institute since its inception. Faculty keep their office doors open to encourage informal meetings with students and colleagues. Graduate students organize frequent department-wide social activities, ranging from Friday afternoon get-togethers to white water rafting trips. And the department’s strong support for collaboration creates an ideal environment for world class robotics research.

The Robotics Institute is an intellectually diverse, multi-disciplinary department. Faculty and students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and represent many unique areas of expertise. This diversity stems from the multi-disciplinary nature of the field of robotics, which encompasses aspects of computer science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, psychology, and many other disciplines.

1st PhD in Robotics Program Created
PhD and Masters Robotics Alumni


The Robotics Institute is an international leader in robotics education. The world’s first Robotics PhD program was founded here in 1989 with the goal of providing graduate students with the knowledge, experience, and skills to become the next leaders in robotics research and education. Graduates from the PhD program have taken on roles ranging from faculty in top universities to designing and controlling Mars rovers.

Since the start of the Robotics PhD program, we have steadily grown and expanded our programs of study. Today, we offer diverse opportunities at all levels of education – from masters programs and an undergraduate minor for Carnegie Mellon students down to the K-12 level, where our renowned programs, workshops, and summer classes inspire and educate the next generation of roboticists.

  • The Robotics Institute PhD program was the first, founded in 1989.

Learn more about all of our graduate and undergraduate programs.


The Robotics Institute is a worldwide hub of robotics research. While much of our work focuses on core robotics technologies like manipulation, locomotion, and control, we also focus on related research areas, including machine learning, computer vision, and graphics.

A.M. Turing Award Winners – Named for “the father of computer science,” Alan Mathison Turing, the award is given to an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community. It is considered to be the computing world’s equivalent to the Nobel Prize and is handed out by the Association for Computing Machinery for contributions “of lasting and major technical importance to the computer field.” There are ten Carnegie Mellon award winners, including its first-ever recipient.

Sponsors include: DOD, DARPA, NASA, NIH, and NSF among others.

  • The Robotics Institute has over 100 projects.
  • The Robotics Institute is the largest university affiliated robotics research group in the world.


The National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) is a technology transfer organization that designs, develops and tests robotic systems and vehicles for industrial and government clients. The NREC combines systems engineering disciplines of requirements and trades analysis, design, simulation, integration and test with applied research capabilities in autonomy, sensing and unmanned platform design. The NREC excels in rapid integration and field-testing of automated systems and several of their systems have transitioned to industry and the military.

How to work with us

The institute regularly partners with government, industry, and non-profit organizations in the areas of sponsored research and education. Additionally, we host both academic and industrial visitors on-site who are fully engaged working alongside our faculty, students, and staff. The institute continues to have a significant impact on the local economy and has spawned over 30 spin-off companies and has helped attract companies such as Google, Apple, Intel, Caterpillar, and Disney to Pittsburgh. The Robotics Institute has spawned over 30 start-up companies employing over 1000 people.

Giving to the Robotics Institute

The Robotics Institute welcomes gifts. Your contribution will be used to help us further the innovations of our students and faculty.

For more information see our Giving to the Robotics Institute page.

Online contributions may be made at the CMU Make a Gift Site.