Autonomous vehicle company Aptiv moving to Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood Green

By Bob Bauder, TribLive

A self-driving car company is the first private business to announce it will move into Hazelwood Green, a development taking shape at the site of a former LTV Steel mill along the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh.

Aptiv announced Wednesday that it is moving its research and development operation from O’Hara to the Hazelwood development.

Officials from the company said it will fill out Building B, one of three, three-story structures being constructed under the steel skeleton of Mill 19, a former bar mill. The company plans to move 200 engineers from three buildings in O’Hara’s RIDC Park and consolidate them under one roof at Mill 19, according to Karl Iagnemma, president of Aptiv’s Autonomous Mobility.

“Our local team of over 200 employees, which includes some of the world’s leading experts in robotics and autonomous technology, they’ll be here in this building, focusing on advancing the development of production ready, Level 4 driverless technologies that will transform the future of transportation worldwide,” Iagnemma said. “Our relocation to Mill 19 gives us the opportunity to potentially double the size of that team in the coming years, so potentially to go from 200 here to up to 400 engineers.”

Level 4 autonomy is considered fully autonomous, though the car would still have a cockpit and the driver could still take control of the car if needed. It is the second highest level of autonomy behind Level 5. At that level, there would be no driver.

Donald Smith, president of the Regional Industrial Development Corp., which is developing Mill 19, described the move as a major moment in the evolution of the 178-acre brownfield. Formerly known as Almono, the site is owned by Almono LP, consisting of the Richard King Mellon and Benedum foundations and the Heinz Endowments.

“This is the first private sector industrial tenant on this site since LTV,” Smith said. “This is a watershed moment for the site and the region as we turn the page on a new chapter in Pittsburgh’s history.”

He said Aptiv should be able to move into its building by late spring.

The property once consisted of coke ovens and other steelmaking facilities operated by Jones and Laughlin Steel Co. and later LTV Steel until the late 1990s. Mill 19 takes up about 12 acres of the property.

The first building was completed in July and is now occupied by Carnegie Mellon University’s Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute and Catalyst Connection, a nonprofit that provides consulting and training services to small manufacturers. Smith said additional space in the building is available for lease.

CMU recently acquired an option from Almono LP for 8.3 acres in another area of the property to expand its operations, he said.

Smith said there is a lot of interest in developing the rest of the site. The third building at Mill 19 could be ready for tenants next year, he said.

“We’re in discussions with a number of tenants from a variety of predominantly technology industries who are interested in that building, and so we’re finalizing some of the design features, working with the tenants and if all goes well we can kick that off next year,” he said, declining to identify any potential occupants.

Mill 19 will house one of Aptiv’s three research and development centers. The global technology company also has centers in Boston and Singapore.

Iagnemma said the company continues to test self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and Beaver County, but its main operations center is in Las Vegas, which has provided more than 75,000 autonomous vehicle rides to the public.

He said Mill 19 was a perfect fit for the company.

“Right now on our current footprint we’ve got three buildings that are spread apart a little bit,” he said. “We really wanted to get everybody under one roof. We also wanted to remain in close proximity to Carnegie Mellon and other real talent centers and close to Downtown. We found a site that checked all those boxes for us.”