Carnegie Mellon has a lot of robotics research going on around its campus. One of the major organizations that works in robotics is the originally named Robotics Institute. The National Robotics Engineering Consortium, or NREC for short, is a branch of the Robotics Institute.

Oakland is too crowded for an industrial robotics R&D building. Instead, the NREC was built in nearby Lawrenceville. There used to be an abandoned warehouse just off the 40th Street Bridge in Pittsburgh by the Allegheny River. In 1995, the Robotics Insitute decided to build a robotics lab that was focused on commercialization than pure research. This warehouse provided ample space for offices, conference rooms, mechanical and electrical workshops, housing for robotic tractors and harvesters, and grounds to test these robots.

The main task of the NREC is to develop and commercialize robots. One arena for technical advancement is the agricultural sector. Demeter is a harvester that no longer needs a human to go out into the fields. The NREC has also built robots for plant nurseries. One robot will move around flower pots and maintain a facility.

With the help of about 50 employees along with the Robotics Institute, Pittsburgh can produce a quarter of the robots that the entire country of Japan can.