Visible to the public 2015 Cyber-Physical Systems Solicitation

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2015 Cyber-Physical Systems Solicitation (15-541)

Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering

Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS)


David Corman,, (703) 292-8754, Room 1175
Radhakisan Baheti,, (703) 292-8339, Room 525
Sankar Basu,, (703) 292-7843
Bruce Hamilton,, (703) 292-7066, Room 565
Bruce Kramer,, (703) 292-5348, Room 545
Anita Nikolich,, (703) 292-4551
Phillip Regalia,, (703) 292-8910, Room 1115
Gurdip Singh,, (703) 292-8061
Sylvia Spengler,, (703) 292-8930, Room 1125
Ralph Wachter,, (703) 292-8950, Room 1175


Solicitation 15-541

Important Information for Proposers

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 15-1), is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after December 26, 2014. The PAPPG is consistent with, and, implements the new Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance) (2 CFR SS 200). Please be advised that the guidelines contained in NSF 15-1 apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.


Full Proposal Window: April 20, 2015 - May 4, 2015


Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are engineered systems that are built from, and depend upon, the seamless integration of computational algorithms and physical components. Advances in CPS will enable capability, adaptability, scalability, resiliency, safety, security, and usability that will far exceed the simple embedded systems of today. CPS technology will transform the way people interact with engineered systems -- just as the Internet has transformed the way people interact with information. New smart CPS will drive innovation and competition in sectors such as agriculture, energy, transportation, building design and automation, healthcare, and manufacturing.

The December 2010 report of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) titled Designing a Digital Future: Federally Funded Research and Development in Networking and Information Technology calls for continued investment in CPS research because of its scientific and technological importance as well as its potential impact on grand challenges in a number of sectors critical to U.S. security and competitiveness such as the ones noted above. These challenges and technology gaps are further described in a CPS Vision Statement published in 2012 by the federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) CPS Senior Steering Group.

Tremendous progress has been made in advancing CPS technology over the last five-plus years. We have explored foundational technologies that have spanned an ever-growing set of application domains, enabling breakthrough achievements in many of these fields. At the same time, the demand for innovation in these domains continues to grow, and is driving the need to accelerate fundamental research to keep pace.

Despite significant inroads into CPS technology in recent years, we do not yet have a mature science to support systems engineering of high-confidence CPS, and the consequences are profound. Traditional analysis tools are unable to cope with the full complexity of CPS or adequately predict system behavior. For example, minor events that trip the current electric power grid -- an ad hoc system -- can escalate with surprising speed into widespread power failures. This scenario exemplifies the lack of appropriate science and technology to conceptualize and design for the deep interdependencies among engineered systems and the natural world. The challenges and opportunities for CPS are thus significant and far-reaching. New relationships between the cyber and physical components require new architectural models that redefine form and function. They integrate the continuous and discrete, compounded by the uncertainty of open environments. Traditional real-time performance guarantees are insufficient for CPS when systems are large and spatially, temporally, or hierarchically distributed in configurations that may rapidly change. With the greater autonomy and cooperation possible with CPS, greater assurances of safety, security, scalability, and reliability are demanded, placing a high premium on open interfaces, modularity, interoperability, and verification.

The goal of the CPS program is to develop the core system science needed to engineer complex cyber-physical systems which people can use or interact with and depend upon. Some of these may require high-confidence or provable behaviors. The program aims to foster a research community committed to advancing research and education in CPS and to transitioning CPS science and technology into engineering practice. 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 sectors. To expedite and accelerate the realization of cyber-physical systems in a wide range of applications, the CPS program also 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. We have also seen a convergence of CPS technologies and research thrusts that underpin "Smart Cities" and the Internet of Things (IoT). These domains offer new and exciting challenges for foundational research and provide opportunities for maturation at multiple time horizons.

In 2015, NSF is working closely with multiple agencies of the federal government, including the U.S. Department of Homeland (DHS) Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), U.S. DOT Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Joint Program Office (JPO), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD), and several National Institutes of Health (NIH) institutes and centers [including the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)], to identify basic research needs in CPS common across multiple application domains, along with opportunities for accelerated transition to practice.

Three classes of research and education projects -- differing in scope and goals -- will be considered through this solicitation:

  • Breakthrough projects must offer a significant advance in fundamental CPS science, engineering and/or technology that has the potential to change the field. This category focuses on new approaches to bridge computing, communication, and control. Funding for Breakthrough projects may be requested for a total of up to $500,000 for a period of up to 3 years.
  • Synergy projects must demonstrate innovation at the intersection of multiple disciplines, to accomplish a clear goal that requires an integrated perspective spanning the disciplines. Funding for Synergy projects may be requested for a total of $500,001 to $1,000,000 for a period of 3 to 4 years.
  • Frontier projects must address clearly identified critical CPS challenges that cannot be achieved by a set of smaller projects. Funding may be requested for a total of $1,000,001 to $7,000,000 for a period of 4 to 5 years.