The fear of the robotics industry is commonly sparked by one of two things – wacky sci-fi films or the idea of robots pushing humans out of jobs. A Carnegie Mellon-led non-profit wants to prove differently, aiming to help create 510,000 new jobs with the creation of a new robotics institute – and they’ve received $250 million to help them do just that.
The Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute (ARM) will be built in Pittsburgh with the $250 million coming from several sources. Of the $250 million, $80 million was given as an award by the Department of Defense (DOD). The remaining funds of about $170 million were from undisclosed partner organizations.
Carnegie Mellon’s facility plans to center in on fields of manufacturing that they feel robotics is best suited for. Automotive, aerospace, electronics and textile were among the potential areas of research and development.
The funding comes to a suitable cause at a convenient time. In November of 2016, a paper was published by 150 experts dubbed the “U.S. Roadmap for Robotics“. Central talking points involved requests for Congress to give more funding to robotics research. The paper suggested that this would ensure that America stays at the top of robotics and artificial intelligence. All of these thoughts align with the goals of ARM.
The White House also released a report stressing the need for a “social safety net” as automation integrates with society. Although this would typically be a concern for such a magnitude of robotics research that might occur at ARM, the institute has promised their total of over 500,000 jobs. The White House expects automation to disrupt millions of American jobs.
Funding similar to that which Carnegie Mellon’s non-profit was given is being mimicked in other funds. Notable individuals Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, and Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, donated $10 million each to MIT and Harvard’s fund for advanced artificial intelligence research.
The number of jobs the institute plans to create is impressive, and the potential advancement in robotics is enticing. Most noteworthy, however, is the magnitude of the donation. The $250 million might be the largest amount of money a university has been allocated for robotics research.
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