Driver-on-demand service Uber is building a robotics research lab in Pittsburgh, PA to “kickstart autonomous taxi fleet development,” sources close to the decision have confirmed to TechCrunch. They say the company has hired talent from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, including lead engineering and commercialization experts.

No one at Carnegie Mellon or Uber agreed to discuss the deal on the record but an announcement should be forthcoming. Update: Uber published a blog post today outlining its partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, confirming our reporting.

Sources tell us Uber is hiring more than fifty senior scientists from Carnegie Mellon as well as from the National Robotics Engineering Center, a CMU-affiliated research entity. Carnegie Mellon, home of the Mars Rover and other high-profile robotics projects, declined to comment at this time, as did scientists mentioned by our source. Uber has “cleaned out” the Robotics Institute, said the source.

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