Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS)

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are engineered systems that are built from, and depend upon, the seamless integration of computation and physical components. Advances in CPS will enable capability, adaptability, scalability, resiliency, safety, security, and usability that will expand the horizons of these critical systems. CPS technologies are transforming the way people interact with engineered systems, just as the Internet has transformed the way people interact with information. New, smart CPS drive innovation and competition in a range of application domains including agriculture, aeronautics, building design, civil infrastructure, energy, environmental quality, healthcare and personalized medicine, manufacturing, and transportation. CPS are becoming data-rich enabling new and higher degrees of automation and autonomy. Traditional ideas in CPS research are being challenged by new concepts emerging from artificial intelligence and machine learning. The integration of artificial intelligence with CPS especially for real-time operation creates new research opportunities with major societal implications.

While tremendous progress has been made in advancing CPS technologies, the demand for innovation across application domains is driving the need to accelerate fundamental research to keep pace. At the same time, the CPS program seeks to open new vistas for the research community to think beyond the usual cyber-physical paradigms and structures and propose creative ideas to address the myriad challenges of today's systems as well as those of the future that have not yet been designed or fielded.

The CPS program aims to develop the core research needed to engineer these complex CPS, some of which may also require dependable, high-confidence, or provable behaviors. Core research areas of the program include control, data analytics, and machine learning—including real-time learning for control, autonomy, design, Internet of Things (IoT), mixed initiatives including human-in- or human-on-the-loop, networking, privacy, real-time systems, safety, security, and verification. By abstracting from the particulars of specific systems and application domains, the CPS program seeks to reveal cross-cutting, fundamental scientific and engineering principles that underpin the integration of cyber and physical elements across all application domains. The program additionally supports the development of methods, tools, and hardware and software components based upon these cross-cutting principles, along with validation of the principles via prototypes and testbeds. This program also fosters a research community that is committed to advancing education and outreach in CPS and accelerating the transition of CPS research into the real world.

In FY 2020, NSF is working closely with multiple agencies across the federal government, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T); the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); several National Institutes of Health (NIH) institutes and centers including the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS); and the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA, hereafter referred to as NIFA). 

Proposals for three classes of research and education projects—differing in scope and goals—are supported through the CPS program:

  • Small projects may request a total budget of up to $500,000 for a period of up to 3 years. They are well suited to emerging new and innovative ideas that may have high impact on the field of CPS. Note that Small projects are not accepted under this solicitation.

  • Medium projects may request a total budget ranging from $500,001 to $1,200,000 for a period of up to 3 years. They are well suited to multi-disciplinary projects that accomplish clear goals requiring integrated perspectives spanning the disciplines.

  • Frontier projects must address clearly identified critical CPS challenges that cannot be achieved by a set of smaller projects. Furthermore, Frontier projects should also look to push the boundaries of CPS well beyond today's systems and capabilities. Funding may be requested for a total of $1,200,001 to $7,000,000 for a period of 4 to 5 years. Note that the Frontier project deadline is different than that for Medium projects.

Please note, this solicitation includes windows for Medium and Frontier proposals. Small proposals are not invited in FY 2020. For FY 2021 (beginning Oct. 1, 2020) and beyond, the CPS program anticipates going to a "no-deadline" submission for Small and Medium proposals. Specific annual deadlines for Frontier proposals are anticipated to continue as noted in this solicitation.

Full Proposal Windows: 

  • Medium Proposals:  June 8, 2020 - June 22, 2020
  • Frontier Proposals:   December 2, 2020;   First Wednesday in December, Annually Thereafter

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.
  • Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities.

An individual can participate as PI, co-PI, Senior Personnel, or Consultant on no more than two proposals submitted in response to this solicitation.

These eligibility constraints will be strictly enforced in order to treat everyone fairly and consistently. In the event that an individual exceeds the two-proposal limit for this solicitation, proposals received within the limit will be accepted based on earliest date and time of proposal submission (i.e., the first two proposals received will be accepted and the remainder will be returned without review). No exceptions will be made.

Additionally, proposals submitted in response to this solicitation may not duplicate or be substantially similar to other proposals concurrently under consideration by other NSF, DHS, DOT, NIH, or NIFA programs. Duplicate or substantially similar proposals will be returned without review, including those substantially similar to previously declined proposals.

Amount

$7,000,000

Funding Type

Grant

Eligibility

Faculty

Category

Curriculum Development
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Interdisciplinary

External Deadline

December 2, 2020