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Deadline: National Robotics Initiative 2.0: Ubiquitous Collaborative Robots (NSF)

***The National Science Foundation (NSF) is emerging from a 35-day funding lapse in appropriations and shutdown of the agency. See the link below for guidance on the NSF proposer and awardee community regarding the initial resumption of operations. The page will continue to be updated as more information becomes available. Questions regarding the guidance, as well as other post-shutdown questions, should be directed to the Policy Office in the Division of Institution & Award Support at policy@nsf.gov.


Grants.gov Announcement

Program Title:

National Robotics Initiative 2.0: Ubiquitous Collaborative Robots (NRI-2.0)

Synopsis of Program:

The NRI-2.0 program builds upon the original National Robotics Initiative (NRI) program to support fundamental research in the United States that will accelerate the development and use of collaborative robots (co-robots) that work beside or cooperatively with people. The focus of the NRI-2.0 program is on ubiquity, which in this context means seamless integration of co-robots to assist humans in every aspect of life.

The program supports four main research thrusts that are envisioned to advance the goal of ubiquitous co-robots: scalability, customizability, lowering barriers to entry, and societal impact. Topics addressing scalability include how robots can collaborate effectively with multiple humans or other robots; how robots can perceive, plan, act, and learn in uncertain, real-world environments, especially in a distributed fashion; and how to facilitate large-scale, safe, robust and reliable operation of robots in complex environments. Customizability includes how to enable co-robots to adapt to specific tasks, environments, or people, with minimal modification to hardware and software; how robots can personalize their interactions with people; and how robots can communicate naturally with humans, both verbally and non-verbally. Topics in lowering barriers to entry should focus on lowering the barriers for conducting fundamental robotics research and research on integrated robotics application. This may include development of open-source co-robot hardware and software, as well as widely-accessible testbeds. Outreach or using robots in educational programs do not, by themselves, lower the barriers to entry for robotics research. Topics in societal impact include fundamental research to establish and infuse robotics into educational curricula, advance the robotics workforce through education pathways, and explore the social, economic, ethical, and legal implications of our future with ubiquitous collaborative robots.

Collaboration between academic, industry, non-profit, and other organizations is encouraged to establish better linkages between fundamental science and engineering and technology development, deployment, and use.

The NRI-2.0 program is supported by multiple agencies of the federal government including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Questions concerning a particular project’s focus, direction and relevance to a participating funding organization should be addressed to that agency’s point of contact, listed in section VIII of this solicitation.

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

Please note that the following information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

For a full listing of agency contacts see Section VIII. of this solicitation.

Applicable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s):

  • 10.310 — USDA-NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
  • 12.800 — Air Force Office of Scientific Research
  • 43.001 — National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Science)
  • 47.041 — Engineering
  • 47.070 — Computer and Information Science and Engineering
  • 47.075 — Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences
  • 47.076 — Education and Human Resources
  • 81.049 — Office of Science Financial Assistance Program
  • 81.104 — Environmental Remediation and Waste Processing and Disposal

Award Information

Anticipated Type of Award:
Standard Grant or Continuing Grant or Cooperative Agreement or contract vehicles as determined by the supporting agency

Estimated Number of Awards: 40 to 60
per year, subject to the availability of funds.

Foundational projects will range from $250,000 to $750,000 in total costs for up to three years. Integrative projects will range from $500,000 to $1,500,000 in total costs for up to four years. Please refer to Section III for agency-specific budget criteria.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $25,000,000 to $35,000,000
per year, subject to the availability of funds.

Eligibility Information

Who May Submit Proposals:

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.

Who May Serve as PI:

There are no restrictions or limits.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

There are no restrictions or limits.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 2

An investigator may participate as PI, co-PI, or Senior Personnel in no more than two proposals submitted in response to this solicitation each year.

In the event that an individual exceeds this limit, 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.

The above limit applies only to proposals to the NRI-2.0 solicitation, not to the totality of proposals submitted to NSF.

Proposals submitted in response to this solicitation may not duplicate or be substantially similar to other proposals concurrently under consideration by other NSF, DOD, DOE, NASA, or USDA programs. Duplicate or substantially similar proposals will be returned without review, including those substantially similar to previously declined proposals without revisions to address concerns raised by reviewers.

Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

    • Letters of Intent: Not required


    • Preliminary Proposal Submission: Not required


B. Budgetary Information

  • Cost Sharing Requirements:
    Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.
  • Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations:
    For NSF, PAPPG guidelines apply.For DOD, DOE and NASA, contact the cognizant program officer. See Section VIII for contact information.

    For awards made by USDA/NIFA: Section 713 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018 (Pub. L. 115-141) limits indirect costs to 30 percent of the total Federal funds provided (or 42.857 percent of total direct costs) under each award. Similar language may be included in the FY 2019 appropriation; therefore, when preparing budgets, you should limit your request for the recovery of indirect costs to the lesser of your institution’s official negotiated indirect cost rate or the equivalent of 30 percent of total Federal funds awarded. See Part V section 7.9 of the NIFA Grants.gov Application Guide for further indirect cost information.

  • Other Budgetary Limitations:
    Not Applicable

C. Due Dates

  • Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter’s local time):
    February 19, 2019January 22, 2020

    Fourth Wednesday in January, Annually Thereafter

Proposal Review Information Criteria

Merit Review Criteria:

National Science Board approved criteria. Additional merit review considerations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

Award Administration Information

Award Conditions:

Additional award conditions apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

Reporting Requirements:

Additional reporting requirements apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.