History of the Robotics Institute

Over 40 years ago Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute opened its doors with the dream of ushering in a new age of thinking robots. During the ensuing decades, we have experienced many research successes in intelligent manufacturing, autonomous vehicles, space-related robots, medical robotics, nano-machines, computer vision and graphics and anthropomorphic robots.

The possibility of initiating Robotics research at CMU was raised by President Dick Cyert at a meeting attended by Dan Berg (Dean of MCS), Angel Jordan (Dean of CIT), Allen Newell and Raj Reddy in Fall 1978/Spring of 1979. Cyert was told that to reach critical mass we will need 5 to 10 faculty and annual funding of 2 to 5 million dollars. Cyert went with Reddy to the Pentagon leading to a commitment from Admiral Bacchicco of the Office of Naval Research and arranged a meeting with the President of Westinghouse, Tom Murrin, who was broadly responsible for Technology there. With a 5-year five-million-dollar commitment from Murrin and identification of key engineering faculty by Jordan, the Robotics Institute was launched in October 1979.


Interactive Timelines

Space Exploration


Video Archive

The CMURobotics YouTube Channel has an archive of historical video dating back to 1982. Many videos have been preserved and will eventually make it to the YouTube channel, but if you are seeking archival footage, please contact the RI Webteam.