NSF Announces Updated CPS Solicitation

Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are engineered systems that are built from and depend upon the synergy of computational and physical components.  Emerging CPS will be coordinated, distributed, and connected, and must be robust and responsive.  The CPS of tomorrow will need to far exceed the systems of today in capability, adaptability, resiliency, safety, security, and usability.  Examples of the many CPS application areas include the smart electric grid, smart transportation, smart buildings, smart medical technologies, next-generation air traffic management, and advanced manufacturing.  CPS will transform the way people interact with engineered systems, just as the Internet transformed the way people interact with information.  However, these goals cannot be achieved without rigorous systems engineering.

The December 2010 report of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, 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, including aerospace, automotive, chemical production, civil infrastructure, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, materials and transportation.

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. The present electric power grid, an ad hoc system, experiences blackouts over large regions, tripped by minor events that escalate with surprising speed into widespread power failures.  This illustrates the limitations of the current science and technology, which do not enable us to conceptualize and design for the deep interdependencies among engineered systems and the natural world.  At the same time, pressure to develop technologies such as renewable energy, wireless health, advanced manufacturing, smart materials, and electrified ground and air vehicles creates an unprecedented opportunity to rethink many important classes of systems.

The goal of the CPS program is to develop the core system science needed to engineer complex cyber-physical systems upon which people can depend with high confidence. 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 aims 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 test beds.

Three types of research and education projects will be considered, which differ in scope and goals:

  • Breakthrough projects must offer a significant advance in fundamental CPS science, engineering and/or technology that has the potential to change the field.  Funding for Breakthrough projects may be requested for a total of  up to $750,000 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 $750,001 to $2,000,000 for a period of 3 to 4 years.
  • Frontiers 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 $1,200,000 to $10,000,000 for a period of 4 to 5 years.  Note that, due to the difference in goals and scope, the range for Frontiers projects overlaps with the range for Synergy projects.

The CPS program is cooperating with other government agencies to support cyber-physical systems research that is relevant to their missions. Dear Colleague Letters will announce these opportunities as they arise.

A more complete description of the CPS program is provided in Section II, Program Description, of this solicitation.

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Name Email Phone Room
Helen  Gill hgill@nsf.gov (703) 292-7834  1175  
Theodore  P. Baker tbaker@nsf.gov (703) 292-8608  1175  
Ralph  Wachter rwachter@nsf.gov (703) 292-8950  1175  
Radhakisan  Baheti rbaheti@nsf.gov (703) 292-8339  525  
Bruce  Kramer bkramer@nsf.gov (703) 292-5348  545S  

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Solicitation  12-520


Full Proposal Window:  February 15, 2012 - March 15, 2012

Full Proposal Window:  December 17, 2012 - January 22, 2013

Proposals will be accepted only within these windows.

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Additional Funding Opportunities for the CCF Community
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Additional Funding Opportunities for the CNS Community
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Additional Funding Opportunities for the IIS CommunityImage removed.

What Has Been Funded (Recent Awards Made Through This Program, with Abstracts)

Map of Recent Awards Made Through This Program


  • Foundations
  • CPS Technologies
  • CPS Domains
  • Call for Proposals
  • Solicitation
  • NSF