Interserve starts work on its £10.4m contract in November 2020.
The specialist laboratories and testing facilities will be used to investigate all kinds of automation, from driverless cars to hospital robots.
The York Global Initiative for Safe Autonomy, based on the university’s Heslington East campus, will house up to 100 researchers and support staff.
The new Safe Autonomy Institute building, which will include a rooftop lab and specialist robotics design and testing equipment, is expected to open in 2021.
Interserve Construction divisional director John Gittins said: “This is the latest of several projects we have delivered with the University of York and we remain very proud of our association with one of the north’s leading education and research universities.”
Interserve previously built the Hull York Medical School and the £27m Piazza Learning Centre for the University of York and redeveloped its Heslington campus.