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Allegheny

Tech firms keep expanding 'Robotics Row,' Pittsburgh's mini Silicon Valley

Aaron Aupperlee
| Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, 3:30 p.m.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx meets Carnegie Mellon University's highly intelligent mobile platform (CHIMP), a humanoid robot, as he tours the National Robotics Engineering Center in Lawrenceville on Wednesday afternoon, April 22, 2015.
Justin Merriman | Trib Total Media
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx meets Carnegie Mellon University's highly intelligent mobile platform (CHIMP), a humanoid robot, as he tours the National Robotics Engineering Center in Lawrenceville on Wednesday afternoon, April 22, 2015.
Aaron Nicely, 37, of West Mifflin and a representative for RE2 operates the company's 2 Arm Highly Dexterous Manipulation System at RoboPGH Day at Carnegie Robotics in Lawrenceville, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Aaron Nicely, 37, of West Mifflin and a representative for RE2 operates the company's 2 Arm Highly Dexterous Manipulation System at RoboPGH Day at Carnegie Robotics in Lawrenceville, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016.

Advancements in robotics, autonomous manufacturing, self-driving cars and more are taking place in the former warehouses, factories and foundries of Pittsburgh's Strip District and Lawrenceville neighborhoods.

Argo AI, an self-driving car startup partnering with Ford, became the latest to join Robotics Row, a string of technology companies setting up shop along the Allegheny River.

The company announced Thursday it would base its headquarters in the Strip District.

"We see the Strip District as a mini Silicon Valley," Argo AI CEO Bryan Salesky told the Tribune-Review. "In my mind, that is the future of the tech hub in Pittsburgh."

At least 20 companies and organizations working on robotics and autonomous technologies call the three-mile stretch of riverfront home. Uber started its Advanced Technologies Center inside the former Fudgie Wudgie factory in the Strip.

Edge Case Research, a company searching for bugs in self-driving car software, has its office in a former ice-making factory. Nearby, Carnegie Robotics sits on the site of the former Heppenstall Steel Company mill and RedZone Robotics, which sends robots into sewers, works out of the old Geoffrey Boehm Chocolates factory.

Bruce McClellan, the Hanna Langholz Wilson Ellis vice president who serves as broker for the Strip District's Crane Building said the building has been a hotbed for tech startups since he started leasing space in it 15 years ago.

"High ceilings, exposed duct work, brick walls, open space plans, you don't get law firms or accounting firms coming in," McClellan said, describing the Crane Building.

The building had housed 4moms, which makes robotic strollers and other high-tech gear for babies and parents, before it moved to a bigger office on Fort Duquesne Boulevard in Downtown. Sources say the Crane Building is likely the new home for Argo AI. McClellan wouldn't confirm the move.

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