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.

 All proposals must include the following as part of the Project Description:

  • Research Description that describes the technical rationale and technical approach of the CPS research, including the challenges that drive the research problem and how the research integrates cyber and physical components. This section must also describe how the research outcomes are translational to other application domains. Specifically, it must include:

    • A subsection titled "CPS Research Focus" which describes the cyber-physical system attributes of the challenge problem and clearly identifies the core CPS research areas addressed in which the novel and foundational research contributions are being made;
  • An Evaluation/Experimentation Plan that describes how proposed concepts will be validated and outlines the metrics for success;
  • Project Management and Collaboration Plan that summarizes how the project team is ideally suited to realize the project goals and how the team will ensure effective collaboration; and
  • Broader Impacts section that describes how the research will be disseminated to a broad and diverse audience. This should go beyond traditional academic publications and includes education and outreach from the research team spanning multiple levels of engagement. Broader Impacts encompasses Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) and Engineering (BPE).

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), Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), 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. There is no deadline for Small projects.

  • 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. There is no deadline for Medium Projects.

  • 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 projects have a specific deadline.

 

Full Proposal Windows: 

  • Small and Medium Proposals:   January 8, 2021 - December 31, 2021
  • Frontier Proposals:    December 1, 2021 - December 15, 2021

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.

For the CPS program, during any contiguous 12-month period, an individual may not participate as PI, co-PI, or Senior Personnel in more than two proposals across all size classes. This limit will be applied beginning with this solicitation and continue to apply to future versions of this solicitation, unless noted otherwise

These eligibility constraints will be strictly enforced in order to treat everyone fairly and consistently. Any proposal that exceeds this limit at the time of submission for any PI, co-PI, or Senior Personnel will be returned without review. No exceptions will be made. Proposals that are withdrawn prior to commencement of merit review, or those that are returned without review by NSF, will not count against this proposal limit. Proposers are strongly encouraged to verify the dates of prior submissions to the CPS program for all personnel on their teams to avoid their proposals being deemed non-compliant.

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 Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 20 to 30

Approximately 15 Small projects, 15 Medium projects, and 1 Frontier project subject to receipt of sufficient meritorious proposals and pending availability of funds.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $32,400,000

in FY 2021, subject to receipt of sufficient meritorious proposals and pending availability of funds.

Funding Type

Grant

Eligibility

Faculty

Category

Curriculum Development
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Interdisciplinary

External Deadline

December 15, 2021