Robot City is a brownfield site in Pittsburgh, a railway roundhouse and abandoned cokeworks that once served as handmaiden to America's industrial revolution. Carnegie Mellon University plans to develop a high-tech robot testing site there for its Field Robotics Center.
Though currently serving more as a graveyard than a city, it already lives up to its name in another way: it's an industrial adventure playground. I got a tour of this wonderful ruin on Saturday, and took some photos.
Read on after the jump.
Award-winning autonomous vehicles reside in one large workshop, built in Robot City's railway roundhouse.
There's plenty of inexplicable items in there.
The larger adjacent workshop houses numerous robotic vehicles, and a testing area designed to model lunar regolith.
Most of Robot City's industrial environment has been half-reclaimed by plants, all of it brightly-colored in the fall. You'll be seeing more of Pittsburgh's uniquely post-apocalyptic charm when The Road hits movie screens.
The floor, as it happens, is quite clean.
A replica lunar lander (not real gold!) served in research that will come to fruition with the next-generation of interplanetary robots.
In a vast adjacent building, light seeps in through green-tinted windows. The atmosphere is uncanny.
Guarding the entrance is this monumental statue of a robot steelworker. I don't know the artist's name.
This place would make a fantastic movie set or level in a shoot-em-up game.
About 3 pixels of gaussian blur away from being a fantastic loft apartment, I'd say.
The coke plant's been closed for about 10 years: long enough to be thoroughly derelict, not quite long enough to be swept clean.
Delicious, delicious polychlorinated biphenyls.
"The wet bar"
Just like a pipe organ, but with smelting fumes.
The sheer scale of everything was astounding: you really could fit an entire city inside these halls.
Another of the mysterious guardian robot steelworkers.
And their companions.
The building goes on and on and on...
Some hallways are darker than others: picking my way to the sunlit area in this one wasn't entirely stress-free. No grues, thankfully.
Hi-res versions of all these are at Flickr.
Dean Putney and Ian Norman accompanied me on the trip (organized by Maryanna) and have awe-inspiring photos of their own. This one, "Echoes of a Resonance Cascade," was made using a long exposure, painting light with an iPhone set to flash full-screen neon colors: