Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT) Collaborative Research Alliance (CRA)

Funding Agency:
Department of Defense


The ability of the Army to understand, predict, adapt, and exploit the vast array of internet worked things that will be present of the future battlefield is critical to maintaining and increasing its competitive advantage. The explosive growth of technologies in the commercial sector that exploits the convergence of cloud computing, ubiquitous mobile communications, networks of data-gathering sensors, and artificial intelligence presents an imposing challenge for the Army. These Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will give our enemies ever increasing capabilities that must be countered, but commercial developments do not address the unique challenges that the Army will face in using them. 

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has established an Enterprise approach to address the challenges resulting from the Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT) that couples multi-disciplinary internal research with extramural research and collaborative ventures. ARL intends to establish a new collaborative venture (the IoBT CRA) that seeks to develop the foundations of IoBT in the context of future Army operations. The Collaborative Research Alliance (CRA) will consist of private sector and government researchers working jointly to solve complex problems. The overall objective is to develop the fundamental understanding of dynamically-composable, adaptive, goal-driven IoBTs to enable predictive analytics for intelligent command and control and battlefield services. 

For the purposes of this CRA, an Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT) can be summarized as a set of interdependent and interconnected entities (e.g. sensors, small actuators, control components, networks, information sources, etc.) or “things” that are: dynamically composed to meet multiple mission goals; capable of adapting to acquire and analyze data necessary to predict behaviors/activities, and effectuate the physical environment; selfaware, continuously learning, autonomous, and autonomic, where the things interact with networks, humans, and the environment in order to enable predictive decision augmentation that delivers intelligent command and control and battlefield services. 

The IoBT is the realization of pervasive computing, communication, and sensing where everything will be a sensor and potentially a processor (i.e. increased number of heterogeneous devices, connectivity, and communication) where subsequent information is of a scale unseen before. The battlespace itself will consist of active red (enemy), blue (friendly), and gray (non-participant) resources, where deception will be the norm, the environment (e.g. megacities and rural) will be dynamic, and ownership and other boundaries will be diverse and transient. These IoBT characteristics all translate into increased complexity for the warfighter, requiring situation-adaptive responses, selective collection/processing and real time sensemaking over massive heterogeneous data. 

White papers due: 8 May 2017 

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

ARL has identified three interrelated aspects or Research Areas specific to the IoBT CRA vision that when jointly studied will advance the theoretical foundations of IoBT phenomena. In addition, advancing the theoretical foundations that impact the challenges of these three Research Areas (RAs) requires trans-disciplinary research that takes into account the adversarial and security concerns of the Cyber-Physical IoBT. This CrossCutting Research Issue (CCRI) addressing Cyber-Physical Security must be studied jointly in the context and constraints of the three identified Research Areas. The three Research Areas and Cross Cutting Research Issue are defined as follows:

  • Discovery, Composition and Adaptation of Goal-Driven Heterogeneous IoBTs: Novel mathematical theories and scientific insights leading to scalable composition and management of heterogeneous IoBTs enabling secure information sharing to meet multiple dynamic mission goals.
  • Autonomic IoBTs to Enable Intelligent Services: Theoretical foundations, models, and methods of autonomic complex systems that deliver adaptive cyberphysical capabilities and services necessary to enable effective command and control across military (blue), adversary (red), and civilian (gray) domains.
  • Distributed Asynchronous Processing and Analytics of Things: Scientific principles, theories, and methods and enable predictive processing, analytics, and anomaly detection of broadly heterogeneous and varied data, that may be unknown combinations of sparse and voluminous; centralized and distributed; and trusted and suspect for the purposes of augmenting goal-driven decision-making.
  • Cyber-Physical Security: Theoretical and pragmatic cross-cutting methods that address the challenges of the above research areas, while enriching the resiliency of the IoBT, such that it can be hardened against tampering and adversarial compromise, continue operating under attacks, and provide bounded guarantees of performance.

Eligibility Requirements

This PA is expected to result in the award of a cooperative agreement (CA) as defined at 31 U.S.C. 6305 for the execution of the program. The CA will be awarded to a Consortium of organizations that may include institutions of higher education, and industrial and non-profit organizations. 

The Consortium must be led by an institution of higher education charged with spearheading the focused basic research program. This organization will be designated as the Lead Research Organization (LRO). Each Research Area will be led by a Lead Research Area Organization (LRAO), one of which could also be the LRO. Together the LRO and LRAOs make up the Consortium, who are responsible for shaping and steering the CRA through collaboration, with ARL. Performance under the CA may also include other organizations as subawardees to the LRO. To assure the creation of a well-focused research program, the number of partners should balance the need for expertise in all three Research Areas and the Cross Cutting Research Issue with the need to maintain a focused, cohesive, well-integrated research program. 



Amount Description

The total amount available for all awards is anticipated to be approximately $1,000,000.00. Funding is currently available for up to three grants valued at no more than $333,333.00 each to be awarded related to the IoBT program, however, the Government reserves the right to make no award(s) based on the proposals received from this Special Notice. Each award will have a period of performance between nine and twelve months and there will be no equipment purchases associated with awards made as a result of this Special Notice. While the ARL BAA and Topic remain open for proposal submission until 31 March 2017, in order to be eligible for an award under this Special Notice, a proposal must be received in accordance with the due dates and instructions provided in this announcement. An award will be pursuant to 10 USC 2358 Research Projects

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences

External Deadline

May 8, 2017