U. S. Steel Makes Strategic Investment in Pittsburgh-Based Autonomous Warehousing Pioneer -- Freespace Robotics

12 March 2024

United States Steel Corporation today announced a strategic investment in Pittsburgh-based Freespace Robotics, a pioneering manufacturer of robotic storage and retrieval systems that are in demand by warehouses worldwide. This investment will help Freespace hire and retain local talent as well as recruit others into the region.

"Investing in Freespace Robotics is another way we’re promoting innovation while supporting the regional economy and its workforce,” said Christian Gianni, U. S. Steel Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer. "Given Freespace’s ambitious growth plan rooted right here in our hometown, this investment also underscores how we’re doubling down on the region because we believe in its potential to be a force for innovation in the U.S. and beyond.”

Freespace Robotics manufactures an autonomous storage system that leverages robots to store and retrieve goods in ways that are new to market. For example, its robots can handle multiple goods at once, more sizes of goods, and can store and retrieve goods in a single action. The company will use U. S. Steel’s investment to execute on pilot programs, establish its manufacturing presence in the region and scale up its team.

Automated storage and retrieval systems are used for warehousing, retail, and logistics; from the largest of distribution centers to regional centers, and micro-fulfillment and back of store for ecommerce. The warehouse automation market in the U.S. alone is expected to grow at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate of over 15% through 2028 and become a $44B market globally by 2028. [source: LogisticsIQ]

“This region has a long history of industrial innovation through advances in hardware and large-scale equipment,” said Freespace Robotics CEO Dr. Robert J. Szczerba. “U. S. Steel knows first-hand the importance of creating an innovation pipeline for themselves and the additional value of doing so in its hometown with hometown talent.”

“The Freespace Robotics team are clear leaders and innovators. These highly advanced technologies will be essential for a robust, resilient, and more efficient supply chain,” added Gianni.

Freespace Robotics is a portfolio company from Carnegie Foundry, a Robotics and AI venture studio headquartered in Pittsburgh that partners with the world leader in autonomous robotics – the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) at Carnegie Mellon University – to build its technologically advanced solutions. NREC combines expertise from decades of applied R&D work in autonomy with highly strategic, corporate and public sector partners to bring multi-use technology solutions to market. U. S Steel is also an anchor investor of Carnegie Foundry.

As part of this investment, U. S. Steel’s Director of Strategy & Corporate Development, Jim Cook, will join the Freespace Robotics Board of Directors. Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.