- When Uber raided Carnegie Mellon’s robotics department, buying away 40 top researchers and scientists, the move was startling in scale but familiar in concept, as industry has historically swooped in once new technology is close to market.
- The New York Times Magazine reports that the booming nature of robotics research, especially self-driving car technology, may make young researchers consider more carefully whether to find a place in academia or go straight to the corporate world.
- But since companies like Uber typically never pay for the slow early work that gets ideas ready for market — the basic research — universities will always have to compete with, but never worry about being replaced by, industry.
Some say the carnage at Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center will be a selling point in finding new employees. Obviously, the department is watched and talent is courted. Also, with Uber opening its R&D headquarters practically just down the street from Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh now has an investor base for good ideas that it didn’t have before.
The New York Times Magazine reports Uber recently gave $5.5 million to the university to fund a new robotics chair and three fellowships. Generous, maybe. But after the poaching, it was the least they could do.