When compiling our list of 20 Pittsburgh tech companies to watch in 2020, we said there were many other tech companies doing interesting things this year — like RE2 Robotics, which recently announced they are in hiring mode and expanding their staff by 50 percent in 2020.

The company’s robots are in use all over the world.

“We develop human-like robotic arms, that empower humans to do jobs safer, faster and with higher quality,” explains Jorgen Pedersen, president and CEO of the Lawrenceville-based company.

“In the early days, we focused primarily on bomb squads, keeping people safe and away from threats. Now in recent years — and what’s really driving our hiring push — the technology developed for that application is also needed in other markets, including the medical (market), the energy space and also the aviation space.”

Photo courtesy of RE2 Robotics.

RE2 robots have been used extensively worldwide, including for sensitive missions such as the nuclear disaster cleanup in Fukushima, Japan, and the Hurricane Michael cleanup at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. Current RE2 projects include an underwater robotic hand used by the Navy for explosive disposal work.

“We developed a retrofit kit for construction equipment,” says Pedersen. “It’s a robotics system that you literally seatbelt into the cab of a construction vehicle, and it grabs the implements — whether it’s a steering wheel, joysticks, pedals and switches — as if there was a human physically sitting there. And you can take over that construction vehicle and remotely operate it. When you’re done, then you can take it out of one construction vehicle and put it into a completely different one — you can go from a dump truck to an excavator to a skid-steer.”

The company began in 2001 as a Carnegie Mellon spin-off but Pedersen’s role in Pittsburgh’s robotics scene goes back even further. He was one of the founders of the National Robotics Engineering Center in 1995.

RE2 surpassed 50 employees at the end of 2018. They’re hiring about 25 people this year — mostly mechanical and software engineers, with expertise in computer vision, machine learning and AI. Other positions will be in business development, project management and talent.