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

Program Solicitation
NSF 20-522

Replaces Document(s):
NSF 19-536

NSF Logo

National Science Foundation

Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering
     Division of Information and Intelligent Systems

Directorate for Engineering

Directorate for Education and Human Resources

Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

USDA       logo



U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

NIFA       logo



    National Institute of Food and Agriculture

NASA       logo



National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NIOSH      logo



The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Submission Window Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

     February 12, 2020 - February 26, 2020

IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND REVISION NOTES

This solicitation is a revision of NSF 19-536, the solicitation for the National Robotics Initiative (NRI-2.0).

The significant changes in the FY 2020 NRI-2.0 solicitation are as follows:

  • The deadline has been revised.
  • The definition of co-robot has been updated.
  • The definitions of the themes have been updated.
  • The lower funding bound of INT projects has changed.
  • NASA will only consider projects that are within its stated cost limits.
  • USDA/NIFA will only consider projects that are within its stated cost limits.
  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has been added as a partner organization.
  • The Department of Energy and the Department of Defense have been removed as partner organizations.

Any proposal submitted in response to this solicitation should be submitted in accordance with the revised NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 19-1), which is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after February 25, 2019.

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

General Information

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). A co-robot is a robot whose main purpose is to work with people or other robots to accomplish a goal. An ideal co-robot is an adaptable partner, not limited to a narrow set of specified interactions or functions, but able to significantly enhance team performance despite changes in its role, its teammates, or the team’s collective goals. 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 themes that are envisioned to advance the goal of ubiquitous co-robots: scalability, customizability, lowering barriers to entry, and societal impact, including human safety. Topics addressing scalability include how robots can collaborate effectively with orders of magnitude more humans or other robots than is handled by the current state of the art; 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 different 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, security, 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 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 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.

  • Scott Acton, CISE/CCF, telephone: (703) 292-2124, email: sacton@nsf.gov

  • Radhakisan Baheti, ENG/ECCS, telephone: (703) 292-8339, email: rbaheti@nsf.gov

  • Jordan Berg, ENG/CMMI, telephone: (703) 292-5365, email: jberg@nsf.gov

  • Irina Dolinskaya, ENG/CMMI, telephone: (703) 292-7078, email: idolinsk@nsf.gov

  • James Donlon, CISE/IIS, telephone: (703) 292-8074, email: jdonlon@nsf.gov

  • Ephraim P. Glinert, CISE/IIS, telephone: (703) 292-8930, email: eglinert@nsf.gov

  • Wu He, EHR/DRL, telephone: (703) 292-7593, email: wuhe@nsf.gov

  • Tatiana Korelsky, CISE/IIS, telephone: (703) 292-8930, email: tkorelsk@nsf.gov

  • Bruce Kramer, ENG/CMMI, telephone: (703) 292-5348, email: bkramer@nsf.gov

  • Frederick M. Kronz, SBE/OAD, telephone: (703) 292-7283, email: fkronz@nsf.gov

  • Wendy Nilsen, CISE/IIS, telephone: (703) 292-2568, email: wnilsen@nsf.gov

  • Erion Plaku, CISE/IIS, telephone: (703) 292-8695, email: eplaku@nsf.gov

  • Jie Yang, CISE/IIS, telephone: (703) 292-4768, email: jyang@nsf.gov

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

  • 10.310 --- USDA-NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
  • 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
  • 93.262 --- The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

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 $250,000 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: $22,000,000 to $32,000,000

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, NASA, NIOSH, 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 NIOSH and NASA, contact the cognizant program officer. See Section VIII for contact information.

    For awards made by USDA/NIFA: Indirect Cost (IDC) is not to exceed 30 percent of Total Federal Funds Awarded (TFFA) of the recipient.

    Section 1462(a) and (c) of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 (NARETPA) limits IDC for the overall award to 30 percent of Total Federal Funds Awarded (TFFA) under a research, education, or extension grant. The maximum IDC rate allowed under the award is determined by calculating the amount of IDC using:

    1. the sum of an institution’s negotiated indirect cost rate and the indirect cost rate charged by sub-awardees, if any; or
    2. 30 percent of TFFA.

    The maximum allowable IDC rate under the award, including the IDC charged by the sub-awardee(s), if any, is the lesser of the two rates.

    If the result of number 1) above is the lesser of the two rates, the grant recipient is allowed to charge the negotiated IDC rate on the prime award and the sub-award(s), if any. Any sub-awards would be subject to the sub-awardee’s negotiated IDC rate. The sub-awardee may charge its negotiated IDC rate on its portion of the award, provided the sum of the IDC rate charged under the award by the prime awardee and the sub-awardee(s) does not exceed 30 percent of the TFFA.

    If the result of number 2) above is the lesser of the two rates, then the maximum IDC rate allowed for the overall award, including any sub-award(s), is limited to 30 percent of the TFFA. That is, the IDC of the prime awardee plus the sum of the IDC charged by the sub-awardee(s), if any, may not exceed 30 percent of the TFFA.

    In the event of an award, the prime awardee is responsible for ensuring the maximum indirect cost allowed for the award is not exceeded when combining IDC for the Federal portion (i.e., prime and sub-awardee(s)) and any applicable cost-sharing (see 7 CFR 3430.52(b)). Amounts exceeding the maximum allowable IDC is considered unallowable. See sections 408 and 410 of 2 CFR 200.

  • Other Budgetary Limitations:

    Not Applicable

C. Due Dates

  • Submission Window Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

         February 12, 2020 - February 26, 2020

Proposal Review Information Criteria

Merit Review Criteria:

National Science Board approved criteria. Additional merit review criteria 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.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Summary of Program Requirements

  1. Introduction
  2. Program Description
  3. Award Information
  4. Eligibility Information
  5. Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions
    1. Proposal Preparation Instructions
    2. Budgetary Information
    3. Due Dates
    4. FastLane/Research.gov/Grants.gov Requirements
  6. NSF Proposal Processing and Review Procedures
    1. Merit Review Principles and Criteria
    2. Review and Selection Process
  7. Award Administration Information
    1. Notification of the Award
    2. Award Conditions
    3. Reporting Requirements
  8. Agency Contacts
  9. Other Information
  10. Appendix

I. INTRODUCTION

In the future, robots may become as commonplace as today's automobiles, computers, and cell phones. Robots will be in homes and offices; assisting in hospitals, classrooms, and factories; helping to run farms and mines; and exploring in air, on land, under water, and in space. They will be helping the elderly and people with disabilities in their activities of daily living. They will help in performing mundane or dangerous tasks. They will be among the first responders at natural disasters, rescuing people in need and protecting humans from hazards. Teams of humans and co-robots, large and small, will reliably and efficiently cooperate, enriching the quality of life and work for individuals and society alike.

The NRI-2.0 program seeks research on the fundamental science, technologies, and integrated systems needed to achieve this vision of ubiquitous collaborative robots. The NRI-2.0 program builds upon the original NRI program to focus on ubiquity: the seamless integration of co-robots into every aspect of human society, and beyond. To achieve this goal, the NRI-2.0 program focuses on research into innovative computational algorithms, designs, modeling, and analytical techniques in four research themes critical to achieving ubiquitous co-robots: scalability, customizability, lowering barriers to entry, and societal impact. A co-robot is not a robot that works with a specific other robot, but a robot that can assist other robots or people in accomplishing some goal. Most robots rely on a person to start and stop their operation. A co-robot is a robot whose main purpose is to work with people or other robots to accomplish a goal. An exploratory Mars Rover may not be a co-Robot even though it gets instructions and/or gives data to humans on the Earth. A rover that leads a group of astronauts, alerting them to nearby hazards or carrying their supplies, or a group of heterogenous rovers that work together to analyze a feature faster or in more detail than they could do alone, may be a co-robot. An NRI proposal should forcefully convince the reviewers that the proposed technology (Foundational) or proposed system (Integrative) enables or is a co-robot system.

In terms of this program, scalability means how robots can collaborate effectively as their numbers increase dramatically. This includes having robots coordinate with multiple other humans or robots, forming co-robot teams. To achieve scalability, co-robots will require fundamental advances in perception, planning, acting, and learning. Such activities may need to be done in a distributed fashion, and may need to leverage other resources, including the cloud, software agents, or other devices, such as cell phones and the Internet of Things. For large co-robot teams, innovative approaches will be needed to manage large-scale physical and digital resources. To facilitate acceptability, robot behavior will need to be transparent, explainable, and legible. It is anticipated that this focus will necessitate new robot designs and new software architectures, especially to facilitate capabilities for inherent safety, safe failure and recovery modes, and self-diagnosis and self-repair.

For the purposes of this program, customizability means the ability of robots to easily adapt to new situations and new people. Customizable robots will be able to achieve a wide variety of tasks, in a wide variety of situations, and for a wide diversity of people, with little, or no, change to the underlying hardware and software. They should be able to learn about their tasks, environments, and human preferences, and personalize their interactions accordingly. Co-robots will need effective multi-modal communication, with both novices and experts, using verbal, physical and affective communication channels. They will also need to perceive or infer the behavior and intent of others, plan and learn from both human and robot collaborators, and interact with them physically.

Research addressing lowering barriers to entry is aimed at broadening access to co-robots by the larger research community. Approaches may include innovative, low-cost, open-source hardware and software, architectures, shareable testbeds, and other resources that can be easily used and augmented. For remote-access testbeds, where the goal is to share robot testbeds with remote users with varying skills, innovative research is needed in immersive, flexible user interfaces; real-time, low-latency performance; safe reachable states; and design trade-offs to meet various constraints.

Finally, research addressing societal impact of ubiquitous co-robots will bring to the forefront educational, social, economic, ethical, security and legal issues. This program encourages fundamental research to establish and infuse robotics into educational curricula and advance the robotics workforce through education pathways, and to understand the social and economic impacts of robots on our work, our social institutions, and our quality of life. Pertinent research questions may address the social and economic impact of robots on our work, our social institutions, and our quality of life and work. Relevant topics include understanding the complexities of the future co-robot economy; how economic and social inequality will be affected by ubiquitous co-robots; what policies could be instituted to ensure that all stakeholder groups benefit from the presence of co-robots in our everyday lives; how to assure that co-robot design occurs with safety considerations built-in to protect co-workers in proximity to co-robots, or workers who must interact with the co-robot on the job; and how co-robot algorithms can be developed to ensure that co-robot behavior is consonant with ethical and legal norms, thereby promoting responsible research and innovation.

The NRI-2.0 program seeks to strengthen the robotics research community, fostering innovation and workforce development, accelerating progress, demonstrating novel capabilities, and building ecosystems for innovation. The program seeks to promote research to enable greater adaptability and resilience of robot behaviors, leading to more capable, robust systems. The program also seeks to promote new approaches to the challenges of accountability, interoperability, and trust, which will doubtless be engendered by the vision of ubiquitous co-robots.

The NRI-2.0 program represents a natural evolution in robotics research and the co-robot perspective that is in alignment with the report to the House Robotics Caucus Advisory Committee of the U.S. Congress, "A Roadmap for U.S. Robotics From Internet to Robotics" (http://www.us-robotics.us/reports/CCC%20Report.pdf), first published in 2009 and updated in 2016 (http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/contextualrobotics/docs/rm3-final-rs.pdf). Another informative reference report is the WTEC Panel Report on International Assessment of Research and Development In Robotics (http://www.wtec.org/robotics/report/screen-robotics-final-report.pdf).

II. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

Building upon the successes of the National Robotics Initiative (NRI), the goal of the NRI-2.0 program is to support fundamental research that will accelerate the development and use of robots in the United States that work beside or cooperatively with people. Innovative robotics research and applications emphasizing the realization of ubiquitous co-robots is supported by multiple agencies of the federal government including the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The NRI-2.0 program significantly expands the focus of the original NRI program to focus on ubiquitous co-robots. This includes themes of:

  • Scalability: how robots can collaborate effectively with dramatically larger teams of humans or other robots; how they can perceive, plan, act, and learn in uncertain, real-world environments, especially in a distributed fashion; and how they can operate safely, robustly, and reliably in large-scale, complex environments;
  • Customizability: how robots can adapt to a variety of tasks, environments, and people, with minimal modification to hardware and software; how they can learn to be personalized in their interactions with people; and how they can communicate naturally, both verbally and non-verbally;
  • Lowering barriers to entry: how the design of the robots' hardware and software can reduce the cost and learning curve related to doing serious robotics research; and how testbeds and other shareable resources can be developed to facilitate robotics research; and
  • Societal impact: how ubiquitous co-robots affect the social, economic, ethical, legal, security, safety, and educational aspects of our everyday lives.

To achieve the vision of the NRI-2.0 program, funding will support foundational research in robotics science and technology, including novel approaches, algorithms, designs, representations, and analyses, as well as innovative research in integrated robotic systems. While disciplinary research is important, the NRI-2.0 program also encourages cross-disciplinary projects. Collaboration among academic, industry, government, non-profit, and other organizations is encouraged to establish better linkages between fundamental science and engineering and technology development and use, through partnerships among researchers, applications developers, users and industry. International collaborations that enhance and add significant value to the proposed research and education activities will also be considered. While NRI-2.0 encourages projects that include some aspects of technology development, fundamental research should dominate. Proposers focused on developmental work are encouraged to consider submission to the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) or Small Technology Transfer Research (STTR) programs (https://seedfund.nsf.gov).

II.A. Program Scope

All proposals submitted to NRI-2.0 should support the research themes, listed in Section II.A.1, that are the primary foci of the NRI-2.0 program.

Section II.A.2 defines the two classes of proposals – Foundational and Integrative – that will be supported by the program.

Proposals to this solicitation may be selected for funding by any of the sponsoring agencies, although all proposals will go through a uniform review process. Proposals of special relevance to sponsoring agencies listed in this solicitation should address the domain-specific interests listed in Section II.A.3, Sponsoring Agency Mission-Specific Research.

Within NSF, the NRI-2.0 program is administered jointly by the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) and the Directorate for Engineering (ENG). Supporting directorates include the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) and the Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences (SBE). Within USDA, the program is led by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Contacts for these and related activities at other sponsoring agencies can be found in Section VIII of this solicitation.

Those proposals that are targeting a specific agency sponsorship should indicate so in the last line of the last box of the Project Summary, e.g., "Requested funding agency:" followed by that agency's abbreviated name ("NSF," "USDA," "NASA,” or "NIOSH"), but only if they have previously communicated with a program officer from that agency and received permission or instruction to do so. Those not so designated will be considered for funding by all of the joint sponsoring agencies.

II.A.1. Research Themes

This section presents the main research themes that are fundamental for achieving the overall program goals. While this list of themes and subthemes is not exhaustive, proposers are encouraged to incorporate one or more of the subthemes into their proposals. In all cases, proposers are reminded that NRI-2.0 proposals must show a compelling connection to the overall goal of enabling ubiquitous co-robots.

  • Scalability:
    • Enable robots to collaborate and coordinate effectively with multiple other agents, either people or robots whose number is significantly larger than the current state of the art;
    • Enable robotic systems to reliably perceive, act, plan, and learn, especially in a distributed fashion;
    • Enable shared learning among co-robots and through digital media;
    • Investigate approaches to managing data produced/consumed by robots, especially data shared among agents;
    • Enable transparent, explainable, and legible robot behavior;
    • Investigate designs and controls for facilitating ubiquitous interaction and for making co-robots inherently safe (e.g., soft robots); and
    • Investigate hardware and software approaches to enhance robustness and reliability, and enable robots to fail, recover, and resume safely and gracefully.
  • Customizability:
    • Investigate approaches for robots achieving a variety of tasks in a variety of situations, with minimal changes to hardware and software;
    • Enable robots to learn efficiently from direct experience with people or other robots, especially to personalize interactions;
    • Enable natural interaction with users, including use of language and non-verbal communication (e.g., gesture, visual, movement, tactile);
    • Enable effective interaction with experts, including through remote operation;
    • Enable robots to reliably recognize and predict the behavior and activities of others;
    • Investigate social intelligence in robots, including use of mental models, perspective taking, and joint attention; and
    • Facilitate physical collaboration, including physical human-robot interaction and augmentation of human capabilities.
  • Lowering Barriers to Entry:
    • Develop robust, easy-to-use infrastructure for software, hardware, and systems;
    • Investigate composable hardware or software that supports the development of ubiquitous co-robots;
    • Investigate innovative programming languages/paradigms for robots;
    • Develop techniques that would facilitate shareable physical testbeds, especially techniques to make existing testbeds easily available communally (see also Section II.B); and
    • Develop shareable resources, such as software and data.
  • Societal Impact:
    • Investigate the impact of ubiquitous co-robots on social and economic equality;
    • Investigate possible economic and governance policies;
    • Investigate the impact of ubiquitous co-robots on human, economic and data security;
    • Investigate ethical and legal issues related to ubiquitous co-robots;
    • Investigate issues of trust with respect to ubiquitous co-robots;
    • Investigate issues related to teamwork and integration, partnerships, and worker training for collaboration with robots;
    • Investigate worker safety issues related to integration of co-robots into the workplace; and
    • Develop innovative uses for co-robots in education (see also Section II.C).

Note: while security and privacy are also important issues for ubiquitous co-robots, proposals in such areas, that are not specific to robotics, should be sent to other relevant NSF programs, such as Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC, https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=504709).

II.A.2. Classes of Projects

There are two classes of NRI-2.0 projects, with differing requirements and budget ranges. While there will not be a separate competition for the two classes, they will be evaluated using somewhat different criteria.

Foundational (FND) projects focus on fundamental research into technologies that directly support the vision of the NRI-2.0 program. Such projects should lead to transformative approaches that address scientific or technology gaps that currently limit the development, use, or acceptance of co-robots in society. Proposals should clearly explain how the proposed results will further the overall program vision of ubiquitous co-robots. Foundational projects will be in the range of $250,000 to $750,000 in total project budget, with durations of up to three years.

Integrative (INT) projects focus on research in the innovative integration of technologies leading to complete co-robotic systems that support the vision of the NRI-2.0 program. Integrative projects must include rigorous evaluation on physical robots, preferably in real-world settings. This evaluation should follow the scientific methodology, including statement of the formal hypotheses, controlled experiments, evaluation metrics, and statistical analyses of the results. Integrative projects should have a longer-term vision, with objectives that could not be attained simply by a collection of smaller projects provided with similar resources. The overall impact to the science of the NRI-2.0 program should be greater than the sum of each individual investigator contributions. Integrative projects should include multiple PIs, preferably from different disciplines. Integrative projects will be in the range of $250,000 to $1,500,000 in total project budget, with durations of up to four years.

II.A.3. Sponsoring Agency Mission-Specific Research

NSF will consider for funding proposals addressing any of the research themes described above in Section II.A.1, as well as those described below and in Sections II.B and II.C.

NASA seeks research and technology development that will significantly increase the performance of robots to collaboratively support deep space human exploration and science missions. NASA’s latest Exploration Campaign highlights objectives to establish a long-term presence in the vicinity of and on the Moon, and to invest in technologies needed for the exploration of Mars and other deep-space destinations. NASA environments present unique challenges for human-robot collaboration, including high communication latencies and limited bandwidth between non-collocated robots and humans, operation in reduced (or zero) gravity environments, and operation on other worlds (with associated issues due to radiation, temperature, illumination, dust, etc.).

Proposals should focus on research and technology development that contribute to the seamless integration and operation of non-collocated human-robot teams. These teams will experience communication latencies from seconds to hours round-trip, with network bandwidths ranging from a few hundred bits per second to a few megabits per second. Additionally, these teams may intermittently be unable to communicate. Robot team members may be located in habitats (both in-orbit and surface), on planetary surfaces, and underground/underwater on icy and ocean worlds. Human team members may be on Earth, or in orbiting habitats.

Research and technology development should focus on being customizable to both the human and robot, preventing single-system or “one-off” solutions. Robotic systems will be of varying archetypes and modalities – it is expected that many of these systems will be mobile and include manipulation capabilities. Some systems may operate with rich data (from sensors, models, etc.), while others may operate with minimal data derived from limited on-board sensors. NASA’s current technology roadmap cites critical technologies needed to enable and advance Human-Systems Interaction, which includes human-robot teams (Technology Area 4.4). In addition, some example research and technology areas include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Strategies to decrease data needed between human and robot while not impacting team performance;
  • Remote operator interfaces that increase situational awareness and robotic intent understanding, and that optimize operator workload;
  • Autonomous performance monitoring; and
  • Autonomous command planning and sequencing.

It is desired that research and technology development include testing to assess human-robot team performance.

NASA’s Exploration Campaign is described here: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasas-exploration-campaign-back-to-the-moon-and-on-to-mars.

NASA's Technology Roadmaps are available here: https://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/home/roadmaps/index.html.

NASA’s Human and Automation/Robotic Integration Risk and Gaps are identified here: https://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/taxonomy/index.html.

NASA’s Strategic Plan is available here:https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/nasa_2018_strategic_plan.pdf.

NIOSH seeks fundamental and applied research on collaborative robotics for reducing workplace risk exposures, research to identify potential risks of collaborative robots to workers, and research to evaluate different control strategies. NIOSH seeks research in industry sectors likely to deploy and benefit from collaborative robots (e.g., agriculture, construction, healthcare, mining, public safety, retail and wholesale trade, services, transportation, warehousing and utilities). NIOSH seeks research using modeling and simulation to evaluate in a simulated environment potential hazards to humans from collaborative robotic operations and to test collaborative robot and human interactions using simulated test beds. This would enable engineered solutions to the identified hazards before the technology is deployed in the physical world. Simulations may include incorporation of humans into the simulated workspace using a virtual reality interface.

NIOSH has identified research priorities to address knowledge gaps related to collaborative robotics and worker safety and health. The research needs are in the four areas of basic/etiologic, intervention, translation, and surveillance.

Basic/etiologic research builds a foundation of scientific knowledge on which to base future interventions. Specific research topics include the following:

  • Risk factors involving human worker’s cognitive, physical, physiological, and emotional capability and limitations when working with collaborative robots;
  • Refinement and development of science-based human pain and injury thresholds for collaborative and wearable robots;
  • Robotics technologies and engineering features for safe, intuitive, and useful collaborative and co-existing robot systems;
  • Risk factors involving human-robot interface and safety communication;
  • Task-related and environmental risk factors that are specific to each industrial sector, particularly for the industries in which collaborative robotics technology has high potential for improving workplace safety; and
  • Risk factors associated with adaptability of robots in dynamically changing work environments or situations outside normal operating conditions.

Intervention research involves development and evaluation of interventions to reduce injury incidents among human workers working with collaborative robot systems, and also evaluates collaborative robotics technologies as preventive measures for existing workplace hazards. Specific research topics include the following:

  • Evaluation of collaborative robotics technologies as potential interventions to reduce or prevent existing hazards and resulting injuries to workers;
  • Evaluation of training that helps human workers acquire skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to work with collaborative robots safely in complex and dynamic industrial environments;
  • Evaluation of effectiveness of existing safety standards, certifications, and regulations for industrial robot safety (e.g., ANSI/RIA R15.06, ISO/TS 15066); and
  • Innovative workplace interventions including engineering controls and administrative controls. Research may address costs of the intervention and impacts on productivity.

Translation research identifies effective strategies to translate research findings and theoretical knowledge to practices or technologies in the workplace. Specific research topics include the following:

  • Aids and barriers to employers using established safety procedures;
  • Development and evaluation of plain-language guidance on preventing collaborative robot-related injuries;
  • Development and evaluation of dissemination strategies to facilitate the use of existing and new guidance by employers and other stakeholders; and
  • Research on awareness and acceptance of organizations to using evidence-based resources to implement collaborative robot safety management programs.

Surveillance develops new methods, tools, and analytic techniques for the ongoing and systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of data on relevant health outcomes and contributors. Specific research topics include the following:

  • Surveillance methods and/or analytic techniques to identify and monitor collaborative robot-related injury incidents and risk factors, and quantify the burden of occupational injuries using existing data systems; and
  • Case-based fatality, injury, and near-miss incident investigations involving collaborative robots.

Additional information can be found in the NIOSH Strategic Plan which is available at www.cdc.gov/niosh/about/strategicplan/. Robotics-related goals are included in Strategic Goals for Musculoskeletal Health, Traumatic Injury Prevention, and Healthy Workplace Design,

The NIOSH Center for Occupational Robotics Research webpage provides more information and is available at: www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/robotics.

USDA/NIFA, consistent with USDA Strategic Goals 2, 5, and 6 (see https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/usda-strategic-plan-2018-2022.pdf), encourages robotics research, applications, and education to enhance agricultural production, processing, and distribution systems that benefit consumers and rural communities. These robotics efforts address USDA goals, including: protecting agricultural health by preventing and mitigating the spread of agricultural pests and disease (Objective 2.3); enhancing conservation planning with science-based tools and information (Objective 5.1); ensuring lands and watersheds are sustainable, healthy, and productive (Objective 6.2); mitigation of wildfire risk (Objective 6.3), and prevention of foodborne illness and protection of public health (Objective 7.1). Projects involving the following topics are particularly desired, although other robotics topics will be considered:

Scalable Robotic Technologies. Examples include the following areas:

  • Automated and mechanized intelligent systems that focus on labor-intensive tasks in production and distribution of crops;
  • Automated systems for planting, scouting, spraying, culturing, irrigating, and harvesting plant crops (including forests) to decrease costs, improve efficiency, or reduce inputs of water, fertilizer, or chemicals;
  • Improved robotics for inspection, monitoring, culturing, sorting, and handling of plants and flowers in controlled environment facilities and nurseries, or for managing or studying (e.g., monitoring, inspecting, sorting, vaccinating, deworming) large numbers of live animals, either domestic or wild;
  • Automated systems for inspection, sorting, processing, or handling of animal or plant products (including forest products) in post-harvest, processing, or product distribution environments; and
  • Multi-modal and rapid sensing systems for detecting defects, ripeness, physical damage, microbial contamination, size, shape, and other quality attributes of plant or animal products (including forest products), or for monitoring air or water quality.

Configurable Multi-Agent Teams. Examples include the following areas:

  • High-level task planning, execution, and control systems for spatially distributed autonomous or semi-autonomous robots that operate in concert with co-workers, either human, robotic, or other devices/systems;
  • Innovative use of intelligently-coupled robot drones and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) to improve crop and animal management;
  • Communication protocols and standards for inter-agent coordination (including natural language) and for unsupervised collaboration; and
  • Distributed intelligence, fault tolerance, and "failure with grace" that will allow high-level task completion despite failure of one or more agents (or teams) or temporary loss of human attention.

II.B. Infrastructure and Testbeds

As a way to lower the barrier to entry for robotics researchers and the broader community, this program aims to fund the development of innovative infrastructure projects. Some examples include support for the development of reliable, low-cost, easy-to-use robotic hardware; new paradigms for programming robots (especially teams of co-robots); distributed robot operating systems (especially with connections to the cloud); and design and validation environments for robot hardware and software.

In addition, proposals are encouraged that will develop shareable resources that foster collaborative work environments. Examples include data sets and collections of algorithms of general utility to the community, and approaches to hardware co-robotic testbeds that can be effectively accessed and operated by the community, enabling researchers to perform experiments and collect data remotely. Proposers of such testbeds may want to consider collaborating with a national lab to house and maintain the testbed, since NSF requires long-term availability and maintainability of any such shareable resource.

II.C. Robotic Projects for K-16 Education

To promote further exploration of the linkages of research on ubiquitous collaborative robots to one or more levels of K-16 education, NSF's Directorate for Education and Human Resources will provide funding at the lower end of the Foundational project funding range. Successful projects will advance the vision of ubiquitous co-robots by developing and testing innovative strategies for either: a) engaging students or teachers in the study of robotics in the context of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) education; or b) using robotics to enhance teaching and learning in formal or informal STEM education settings. Due to limited funds and the multi-agency nature of this solicitation, education-focused proposals are discouraged at the higher end of the funding range.

Example activities are:

  • Design of innovative robotic technologies as tools for enhancing STEM learning in formal and informal learning environments;
  • Applications that further the development of co-robot systems that support personalized learning;
  • Design, implementation, and rigorous study of robotics competitions that impact student engagement, motivation to learn STEM content, and STEM career awareness and interests;
  • Research and development of learning experiences and instructional models that integrate co-robotics within STEM courses;
  • Development and testing of teacher professional growth opportunities that support increased attention to robotics in school or college settings;
  • Research of learning environments and instructional approaches in formal and informal settings to advance workforce preparedness in robotics; and
  • Development and testing of education strategies for broadening participation of students from groups underrepresented in education pathways to careers in robotics.

II.D. Principal Investigator Meetings

The NRI-2.0 program anticipates holding annual Principal Investigator (PI) meetings for research investigators, industrial partners, and sponsoring agency representatives. Budgets should account for such trips to the Washington, DC, area for each of the project PIs and other team members as appropriate from all collaborating institutions. These meetings will be highlighted by technology demonstrations and progress reports, and will provide a forum for all to discuss best practices, concerns, and high-risk, high-return ideas and challenges pertinent to the vision of ubiquitous collaborative robots.

III. AWARD INFORMATION

All awards made under this solicitation by NSF, NASA, NIOSH, and USDA will be as grants or cooperative agreements or other contract vehicles as determined by the supporting agency. All awards made under this solicitation by USDA/NIFA will be standard grants. A standard grant is an award instrument by which the agency agrees to support a specified level of effort for a predetermined project period without the announced intention of providing additional support at a future date.

This solicitation will make awards for two classes of projects. Foundational projects will range from $250,000 to $750,000 in total costs for a period of up to three years. Integrative projects will range from $250,000 to $1,500,000 in total costs for a period of up to four years. In addition to these overall budget ranges, agency requirements and funding mechanisms place limits on per-year budget ranges:

  • NASA will consider projects with budgets ranging from $85,000 to $150,000 per year in total annual costs (direct plus indirect) averaged over the duration of the project, with durations of up to three years.
  • NIOSH will consider projects with budgets ranging from $85,000 to $250,000 per year in total annual costs (direct and indirect), with durations up to three years.
  • USDA/NIFA will consider projects comprising one or more investigators with budgets ranging from $150,000 to $300,000 per year in total annual costs (direct plus indirect) averaged over the duration of the project, with durations of two to four years. Projects exceeding $1,200,000 in total costs may be accepted by USDA/NIFA with prior approval.

The number of awards will depend on the quality of proposals received, the availability of funds, considerations for creating a balanced overall program, and the degree to which meaningful collaboration across institutions is realized for Integrative projects. Innovative methods of collaboration across geographic boundaries are encouraged.

Upon conclusion of the NSF review process, meritorious research proposals may be recommended for funding by one of NSF, NASA, NIOSH, or USDA/NIFA, determined at the option of the agencies, not the proposer. Subsequent grant administration procedures will be in accordance with the individual policies of the awarding agency, and may require submission of a revised proposal that meets the administrative requirements of the funding agency (see Section V for additional information on agency-specific processes).

IV. 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, NASA, NIOSH, 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.

Additional Eligibility Info:

For USDA/NIFA: Eligible applicants/Principal Investigators (PIs) for the grant program implemented under this subpart include: (1) State agricultural experiment stations; (2) colleges and universities (including junior colleges offering associate degrees or higher); (3) university research foundations; (4) other research institutions and organizations; (5) Federal agencies, (6) national laboratories; (7) private organizations or corporations; (8) individuals who are U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents; and (9) any group consisting of 2 or more entities identified in (1) through (8). Eligible institutions do not include foreign and international organizations.

V. PROPOSAL PREPARATION AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions


Full Proposal Preparation Instructions: Proposers may opt to submit proposals in response to this Program Solicitation via FastLane, Research.gov, or Grants.gov.

  • Full proposals submitted via FastLane: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the general guidelines contained in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG). The complete text of the PAPPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=pappg. Paper copies of the PAPPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov. Proposers are reminded to identify this program solicitation number in the program solicitation block on the NSF Cover Sheet For Proposal to the National Science Foundation. Compliance with this requirement is critical to determining the relevant proposal processing guidelines. Failure to submit this information may delay processing.
  • Full Proposals submitted via Research.gov: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the general guidelines contained in the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG). The complete text of the PAPPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=pappg. Paper copies of the PAPPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov. The Prepare New Proposal setup will prompt you for the program solicitation number.
  • Full proposals submitted via Grants.gov: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation via Grants.gov should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide: A Guide for the Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov. The complete text of the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide is available on the Grants.gov website and on the NSF website at: (https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=grantsgovguide). To obtain copies of the Application Guide and Application Forms Package, click on the Apply tab on the Grants.gov site, then click on the Apply Step 1: Download a Grant Application Package and Application Instructions link and enter the funding opportunity number, (the program solicitation number without the NSF prefix) and press the Download Package button. Paper copies of the Grants.gov Application Guide also may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov.

In determining which method to utilize in the electronic preparation and submission of the proposal, please note the following:

Collaborative Proposals. All collaborative proposals submitted as separate submissions from multiple organizations must be submitted via the NSF FastLane system. PAPPG Chapter II.D.3 provides additional information on collaborative proposals.

See PAPPG Chapter II.C.2 for guidance on the required sections of a full research proposal submitted to NSF. Please note that the proposal preparation instructions provided in this program solicitation may deviate from the PAPPG instructions.

The following information supplements the NSF PAPPG or NSF Grants.gov Application Guide.

Proposal Titles: Proposal titles must indicate the NRI program followed by a colon, then the project class ("FND" or "INT") followed by a colon, then the title of the project. For example, an Integrative proposal would be NRI: INT: Title.

Proposals from institutions that have RUI (Research in Undergraduate Institutions) eligibility should have a proposal title that begins with "NRI: RUI:" followed by either "FND:" or "INT followed by the title; for example, NRI: RUI: FND: Title.

For collaborative proposals arranged as separate submissions from multiple organizations, the project title must begin with the words "Collaborative Research:” followed by the applicable solicitation specific prefix noted above.

Project Summary (one-page limit): Provides an overview description of the project, including its research and education goals, and the community (or communities) that will be impacted by its results. In separate statements, provide a succinct overview of the project in the "overview" text box, a summary of the intellectual merit in the "intellectual merit" box, and a summary of the broader impacts of the proposed project in the "broader impacts" box. At the top of the "overview" text box, enter the title of the project, the name of the PI, and the lead institution. Those proposals that are targeting a specific agency sponsorship should indicate so in the last line of the "broader impacts" box, e.g., "Requested funding agency:" followed by that agency's abbreviated name ("NSF," "NASA,” “NIOSH” or "USDA") but only if they have previously communicated with a program officer from that agency and received permission or instruction to do so. Those not so designated will be considered for funding by all of the joint sponsoring agencies.

To aid in the reviewing process, in the last line of the "overview" box, add the term "Keywords:" followed immediately by one or more of the major research topics: Scalability, Customizability, Lowering Barriers, and/or Societal Impact. The list of keywords may continue, if applicable, with one or more of the following technology terms, in order of relevance: Control, Design, Dynamics, Human-Robot Interaction, Learning, Locomotion, Manipulation, Mechanisms, Modeling/Representation, Multi-Robot, Natural Language, Perception, Planning, Reasoning, Robustness, Safety, Social Intelligence, Soft Robotics, and/or Trust. These may be followed, if applicable, by at most one of the following application areas: Agriculture, Assistive, Construction, Disaster Recovery, Education, Environmental Monitoring, Field Robotics, Infrastructure, Manufacturing, Rehabilitation, Shareable Resources, Testbeds, Worker Safety, Workplace/Industry Safety or Workforce Development.

Project Description: 15-page limit for all proposals. Project descriptions that do not explicitly address the intellectual merit and broader impacts of the proposed project in separate statements may be returned without review. The proposal must meet all formatting requirements, including font, font size, margin width, and lines per inch, as specified in the PAPPG Chapter II.B.2.

For Integrative (INT) proposals, the Project Description must contain a separate section labeled "Evaluation." This section must include a discussion of how the project will be evaluated on a physical robot, including a statement of the formal hypotheses, proposed experiments, evaluation metrics, and statistical analyses to be used. Proposals without this clearly-identifiable section will be returned without review.

Supplementary Documents: Supplementary documents are limited to the specific types of documentation listed in the PAPPG, with the following exceptions:

  • Collaboration Plan. A Collaboration Plan is REQUIRED for projects with more than one investigator, even if the investigators are from the same institution. The Collaboration Plan must be submitted as a Supplementary Document and cannot exceed two pages. Proposals that require a Collaboration Plan, but do not submit one, will be returned without review. The Collaboration Plan must be labeled "Collaboration Plan" and must provide a thoughtful, strong justification for the team of researchers. The Collaboration Plan must include: 1) the specific roles of the collaborating PIs, co-PIs, other Senior Personnel and paid consultants at all organizations involved; 2) how the project will be managed among participants, especially across institutions and disciplines, with a description of how the researchers will work together collaboratively and effectively; 3) identification of the specific coordination mechanisms that will enable cross-institution and/or cross-discipline scientific integration (e.g., workshops, graduate student exchange, project meetings at conferences, use of videoconferencing and other communication tools, software repositories, etc.); 4) specific references to the budget line items that support these coordination mechanisms; and 5) for Integrative projects, a timeline for the integrative activities.
  • Documentation of collaborative arrangements of significance to the proposal through letters of collaboration. Any substantial collaboration with individuals not included in the budget or not employed by the submitting institution(s) should be described and documented with a letter from each collaborator, which should be provided in the Supplementary Documentation section. Such letters should simply confirm the commitment to collaborate, as illustrated in the recommended format provided in the PAPPG. They should appear on the organization's letterhead and be signed by the appropriate organizational representative. General letters of support are not allowed by the PAPPG, and must not be included.
  • Human Subjects Protection. Proposals involving human subjects should include a Supplementary Document of no more than two pages in length summarizing potential risks to human subjects; plans for recruitment and informed consent; inclusion of women, minorities, and children; and planned procedures to protect against or minimize potential risks. For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, reviewers will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption; 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics; and 3) sources of materials.
  • Vertebrate Animals. Proposals involving vertebrate animals should include a Supplementary Document of no more than two pages in length. Reviewers will evaluate the involvement of live vertebrate animals as part of the scientific assessment according to the following five points: 1) proposed use of the animals, and species, strains, ages, sex, and numbers to be used; 2) justifications for the use of animals and for the appropriateness of the species and numbers proposed; 3) adequacy of veterinary care; 4) procedures for limiting discomfort, distress, pain and injury to that which is unavoidable in the conduct of scientifically sound research including the use of analgesic, anesthetic, and tranquilizing drugs and/or comfortable restraining devices; and 5) methods of euthanasia and reason for selection if not consistent with the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia.
  • Data Management Plan (DMP). All proposals must include a Supplementary Document of no more than two pages in length labeled "Data Management Plan". This document should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results. See Chapter II.C.2.j of the PAPPG for full policy implementation. For additional information on the Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results, see: https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/dmp.jsp. For specific guidance for Data Management Plans submitted to the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), see: https://www.nsf.gov/cise/cise_dmp.jsp. Proposals that do not submit a Data Management Plan will not be accepted or will be returned without review.
    • For NIOSH: The Data Management Plan may be outlined in a narrative format or as a checklist but, at a minimum, should include: descriptions of the data to be produced in the proposed project; how access will be provided to the data (including provisions for protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights); use of data standards that ensure all released data have appropriate documentation that describes the method of collection, what the data represent, and potential limitations for use; and plans for archival and long-term preservation of the data, or explaining why long-term preservation and access cannot be justified. CDC Additional Requirement (AR)-25 (https://www.cdc.gov/grants/additionalrequirements/ar-25.html) outlines the components of a DMP and provides additional information for investigators about the requirements for data accessibility, storage, and preservation.
    • For USDA/NIFA:The Data Management Plan (DMP) must clearly articulate how the project director (PD) and co-PDs plan to manage and disseminate the data generated by the project. The DMP will be considered during the merit review process (see Section VI). The requirements for preparation and inclusion of a DMP are included on the following webpage: https://nifa.usda.gov/resource/data-management-plan-nifa-funded-research-projects. Also included on the webpage are FAQs and information about accessing examples of DMPs.
  • List of Project Personnel and Partner Institutions. Provide current, accurate information for all personnel and institutions involved in the project (note: for collaborative proposals, the lead institution should provide this information for all participants). NSF staff will use this information in the merit review process to manage reviewer selection. The list should include all PIs, co-PIs, Senior Personnel, paid/unpaid Consultants or Collaborators, Subawardees, Postdocs, and project-level advisory committee members. This list should be numbered and include (in this order) Full name, Organization(s), and Role in the project, with each item separated by a semi-colon. Each person listed should start a new numbered line. For example:
    • Mary Smith; XYZ University; PI
    • John Jones; University of PQR; Senior Personnel
    • Jane Brown; XYZ University; Postdoc
    • ABC Community College; Paid Consultant
    • Susan White; DEF Corporation; Unpaid Collaborator
    • Tim Green; ZZZ University; Subawardee
  • Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan (if applicable). See PAPPG Chapter II.C.2.j for further information about the implementation of this requirement. Proposals that require a Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan, but do not submit one, will not be accepted or will be returned without review.

Single Copy Documents:

Collaborators and Other Affiliations Information:

Proposers should follow the guidance specified in Chapter II.C.1.e of the NSF PAPPG. Grants.gov Users: The COA information must be provided through use of the COA template and uploaded as a PDF attachment.

Note the distinction to bullet 6 (List of Project Personnel and Partner Institutions), above, for Supplementary Documents: the listing of all project participants is collected by the project lead and entered as a Supplementary Document, which is then automatically included with all proposals in a project. The Collaborators and Other Affiliations are entered for each participant within each proposal and, as Single Copy Documents, are available only to NSF staff.

B. Budgetary Information

Cost Sharing:

Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.

Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations:

For NSF, PAPPG guidelines apply.

For NIOSH and NASA, contact the cognizant program officer. See Section VIII for contact information.

For awards made by USDA/NIFA: Indirect Cost (IDC) is not to exceed 30 percent of Total Federal Funds Awarded (TFFA) of the recipient.

Section 1462(a) and (c) of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 (NARETPA) limits IDC for the overall award to 30 percent of Total Federal Funds Awarded (TFFA) under a research, education, or extension grant. The maximum IDC rate allowed under the award is determined by calculating the amount of IDC using:

  1. the sum of an institution’s negotiated indirect cost rate and the indirect cost rate charged by sub-awardees, if any; or
  2. 30 percent of TFFA.

The maximum allowable IDC rate under the award, including the IDC charged by the sub-awardee(s), if any, is the lesser of the two rates.

If the result of number 1) above is the lesser of the two rates, the grant recipient is allowed to charge the negotiated IDC rate on the prime award and the sub-award(s), if any. Any sub-awards would be subject to the sub-awardee’s negotiated IDC rate. The sub-awardee may charge its negotiated IDC rate on its portion of the award, provided the sum of the IDC rate charged under the award by the prime awardee and the sub-awardee(s) does not exceed 30 percent of the TFFA.

If the result of number 2) above is the lesser of the two rates, then the maximum IDC rate allowed for the overall award, including any sub-award(s), is limited to 30 percent of the TFFA. That is, the IDC of the prime awardee plus the sum of the IDC charged by the sub-awardee(s), if any, may not exceed 30 percent of the TFFA.

In the event of an award, the prime awardee is responsible for ensuring the maximum indirect cost allowed for the award is not exceeded when combining IDC for the Federal portion (i.e., prime and sub-awardee(s)) and any applicable cost-sharing (see 7 CFR 3430.52(b)). Amounts exceeding the maximum allowable IDC is considered unallowable. See sections 408 and 410 of 2 CFR 200.

Budget Preparation Instructions:

Budgets should include travel funds to attend annual NRI Principal Investigator (PI) meetings.

C. Due Dates

  • Submission Window Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

         February 12, 2020 - February 26, 2020

D. FastLane/Research.gov/Grants.gov Requirements

For Proposals Submitted Via FastLane or Research.gov:

To prepare and submit a proposal via FastLane, see detailed technical instructions available at: https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a1/newstan.htm. To prepare and submit a proposal via Research.gov, see detailed technical instructions available at: https://www.research.gov/research-portal/appmanager/base/desktop?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=research_node_display&_nodePath=/researchGov/Service/Desktop/ProposalPreparationandSubmission.html. For FastLane or Research.gov user support, call the FastLane and Research.gov Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 or e-mail fastlane@nsf.gov or rgov@nsf.gov. The FastLane and Research.gov Help Desk answers general technical questions related to the use of the FastLane and Research.gov systems. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this funding opportunity.

For Proposals Submitted Via Grants.gov:

Before using Grants.gov for the first time, each organization must register to create an institutional profile. Once registered, the applicant's organization can then apply for any federal grant on the Grants.gov website. Comprehensive information about using Grants.gov is available on the Grants.gov Applicant Resources webpage: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants.html. In addition, the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide (see link in Section V.A) provides instructions regarding the technical preparation of proposals via Grants.gov. For Grants.gov user support, contact the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or by email: support@grants.gov. The Grants.gov Contact Center answers general technical questions related to the use of Grants.gov. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this solicitation.

Submitting the Proposal: Once all documents have been completed, the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must submit the application to Grants.gov and verify the desired funding opportunity and agency to which the application is submitted. The AOR must then sign and submit the application to Grants.gov. The completed application will be transferred to the NSF FastLane system for further processing.

Proposers that submitted via FastLane or Research.gov may use Research.gov to verify the status of their submission to NSF. For proposers that submitted via Grants.gov, until an application has been received and validated by NSF, the Authorized Organizational Representative may check the status of an application on Grants.gov. After proposers have received an e-mail notification from NSF, Research.gov should be used to check the status of an application.

VI. NSF PROPOSAL PROCESSING AND REVIEW PROCEDURES

Proposals received by NSF are assigned to the appropriate NSF program for acknowledgement and, if they meet NSF requirements, for review. All proposals are carefully reviewed by a scientist, engineer, or educator serving as an NSF Program Officer, and usually by three to ten other persons outside NSF either as ad hoc reviewers, panelists, or both, who are experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with oversight of the review process. Proposers are invited to suggest names of persons they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal and/or persons they would prefer not review the proposal. These suggestions may serve as one source in the reviewer selection process at the Program Officer's discretion. Submission of such names, however, is optional. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts of interest with the proposal. In addition, Program Officers may obtain comments from site visits before recommending final action on proposals. Senior NSF staff further review recommendations for awards. A flowchart that depicts the entire NSF proposal and award process (and associated timeline) is included in the PAPPG as Exhibit III-1.

A comprehensive description of the Foundation's merit review process is available on the NSF website at: https://nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/merit_review/.

Proposers should also be aware of core strategies that are essential to the fulfillment of NSF's mission, as articulated in Empowering the Nation Through Discovery and Innovation: NSF Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years (FY) 2011-2016. These strategies are integrated in the program planning and implementation process, of which proposal review is one part. NSF's mission is particularly well-implemented through the integration of research and education and broadening participation in NSF programs, projects, and activities.

One of the core strategies in support of NSF's mission is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions provide abundant opportunities where individuals may concurrently assume responsibilities as researchers, educators, and students, and where all can engage in joint efforts that infuse education with the excitement of discovery and enrich research through the variety of learning perspectives.

Another core strategy in support of NSF's mission is broadening opportunities and expanding participation of groups, institutions, and geographic regions that are underrepresented in STEM disciplines, which is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.

A. Merit Review Principles and Criteria

The National Science Foundation strives to invest in a robust and diverse portfolio of projects that creates new knowledge and enables breakthroughs in understanding across all areas of science and engineering research and education. To identify which projects to support, NSF relies on a merit review process that incorporates consideration of both the technical aspects of a proposed project and its potential to contribute more broadly to advancing NSF's mission "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes." NSF makes every effort to conduct a fair, competitive, transparent merit review process for the selection of projects.

1. Merit Review Principles

These principles are to be given due diligence by PIs and organizations when preparing proposals and managing projects, by reviewers when reading and evaluating proposals, and by NSF program staff when determining whether or not to recommend proposals for funding and while overseeing awards. Given that NSF is the primary federal agency charged with nurturing and supporting excellence in basic research and education, the following three principles apply:

  • All NSF projects should be of the highest quality and have the potential to advance, if not transform, the frontiers of knowledge.
  • NSF projects, in the aggregate, should contribute more broadly to achieving societal goals. These "Broader Impacts" may be accomplished through the research itself, through activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. The project activities may be based on previously established and/or innovative methods and approaches, but in either case must be well justified.
  • Meaningful assessment and evaluation of NSF funded projects should be based on appropriate metrics, keeping in mind the likely correlation between the effect of broader impacts and the resources provided to implement projects. If the size of the activity is limited, evaluation of that activity in isolation is not likely to be meaningful. Thus, assessing the effectiveness of these activities may best be done at a higher, more aggregated, level than the individual project.

With respect to the third principle, even if assessment of Broader Impacts outcomes for particular projects is done at an aggregated level, PIs are expected to be accountable for carrying out the activities described in the funded project. Thus, individual projects should include clearly stated goals, specific descriptions of the activities that the PI intends to do, and a plan in place to document the outputs of those activities.

These three merit review principles provide the basis for the merit review criteria, as well as a context within which the users of the criteria can better understand their intent.

2. Merit Review Criteria

All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board approved merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

The two merit review criteria are listed below. Both criteria are to be given full consideration during the review and decision-making processes; each criterion is necessary but neither, by itself, is sufficient. Therefore, proposers must fully address both criteria. (PAPPG Chapter II.C.2.d(i). contains additional information for use by proposers in development of the Project Description section of the proposal). Reviewers are strongly encouraged to review the criteria, including PAPPG Chapter II.C.2.d(i), prior to the review of a proposal.

When evaluating NSF proposals, reviewers will be asked to consider what the proposers want to do, why they want to do it, how they plan to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits could accrue if the project is successful. These issues apply both to the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the project may make broader contributions. To that end, reviewers will be asked to evaluate all proposals against two criteria:

  • Intellectual Merit: The Intellectual Merit criterion encompasses the potential to advance knowledge; and
  • Broader Impacts: The Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.

The following elements should be considered in the review for both criteria:

  1. What is the potential for the proposed activity to
    1. Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (Intellectual Merit); and
    2. Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)?
  2. To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?
  3. Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?
  4. How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities?
  5. Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?

Broader impacts may be accomplished through the research itself, through the activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. NSF values the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to achievement of societally relevant outcomes. Such outcomes include, but are not limited to: full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); improved STEM education and educator development at any level; increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology; improved well-being of individuals in society; development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce; increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others; improved national security; increased economic competitiveness of the United States; and enhanced infrastructure for research and education.

Proposers are reminded that reviewers will also be asked to review the Data Management Plan and the Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan, as appropriate.

Additional Solicitation Specific Review Criteria

Programmatic Relevance. All NRI-2.0 proposals must be responsive to the vision of the program. Specifically, proposals must explicitly address the goal of achieving ubiquitous collaborative robots in terms of scalability, customizability, lowering barriers to entry, and/or societal impact.

Integration and Evaluation (for Integrative projects only). Integrative projects focus on research involving complete robotic systems and are typically collaborative and multi-disciplinary. Thus, Integrative projects will also be reviewed on the basis of (1) the innovation in the integration of the system; and (2) the evaluation plan for the robotic system in its intended (preferably real-world) setting. An important criterion for review of the evaluation plan will be its adherence to the scientific methodology, including statement of formal hypotheses, controlled experiments, evaluation metrics, and statistical analyses of results.

Subsequent to the uniform review process, a process of selection by the supporting agencies will be conducted. When considering their funding choices appropriate to the interests and goals described in the solicitation, each agency may apply and prioritize the additional review criteria below to highlight the specific objectives of their programs and activities.

Additional NASA Review Criteria

Programmatic Relevance. Reviewers will assess relevancy to future NASA space exploration missions, as stated in NASA’s Exploration Campaign objectives (https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasas-exploration-campaign-back-to-the-moon-and-on-to-mars). The proposed research should demonstrate an understanding of the unique environment of human-robot teams functioning in this space.

Additional NIOSH Review Criteria

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will evaluate the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit.

Protections for Human Subjects

For research that involves human subjects but does not involve a research category that is exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, reviewers will evaluate the justification for involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk relating to their participation according to the following five criteria: 1) risk to subjects, 2) adequacy of protection against risks, 3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, 4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and 5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.

For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the categories of research exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, NIOSH reviewers will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption, 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and 3) sources of materials. For additional information on review of the Human Subjects section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Human Subjects.

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children

When the proposed project involves human subjects research, reviewers will evaluate the proposed plans for the inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, and the inclusion (or exclusion) of children to determine if it is justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed.

Vertebrate Animals

NIOSH Reviewers will evaluate the involvement of live vertebrate animals as part of the scientific assessment according to the following criteria: (1) description of proposed procedures involving animals, including species, strains, ages, sex, and total number to be used; (2) justifications for the use of animals versus alternative models and for the appropriateness of the species proposed; (3) interventions to minimize discomfort, distress, pain and injury; and (4) justification for euthanasia method if NOT consistent with the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals. Reviewers will assess the use of chimpanzees as they would any other application proposing the use of vertebrate animals. For additional information on review of the Vertebrate Animals section, please refer to the Worksheet for Review of the Vertebrate Animal Section.

Additional USDA/NIFA Review Criteria

Programmatic Relevance. The extent to which the proposed research meets USDA/NIFA goals and advances the sciences related to agriculture and food systems will be evaluated.

Adequacy of Facilities. Reviewers will assess the adequacy of the necessary research infrastructure capacity for the performing organization to conduct the proposed work.

B. Review and Selection Process

Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be reviewed by Ad hoc Review and/or Panel Review.

Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be reviewed by the process below.

A uniform review process will be conducted by NSF for all proposals received responding to this program solicitation. Multiple review panels of experts in the field and additional ad hoc reviewers as needed will be assembled. The number and topical clustering of panels will be determined according to the number and topical areas of the proposals received. Staff members from the other supporting agencies will be assigned to work cooperatively with NSF staff on each panel, as appropriate to the category of funding requested.

Reviewers will be asked to evaluate proposals using two National Science Board approved merit review criteria and, if applicable, additional program specific criteria. Reviewers will be asked to formulate a recommendation to either support or decline each proposal. A summary rating and accompanying narrative will be completed and submitted by each reviewer. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. The Program Officer(s) assigned to manage the proposal's review will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation.

Upon conclusion of the review process, meritorious proposals may be recommended for funding by one of the participating agencies, the choice to be determined at the option of the agencies, not the proposer. Those not so designated will be considered for funding by all of the joint sponsoring agencies. Subsequent grant administration procedures will be in accordance with the individual policies of the awarding agency.

NSF Process: Those proposals selected for funding by NSF will be handled in accordance with standard NSF procedures. This process begins with NSF drafting and releasing the joint agency solicitation, which includes program requirements.

After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the NSF Program Officer recommends to the cognizant Division Director whether the proposal should be declined or recommended for award. NSF strives to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. Large or particularly complex proposals or proposals from new awardees may require additional review and processing time. The time interval begins on the deadline or target date, or receipt date, whichever is later. The interval ends when the Division Director acts upon the Program Officer's recommendation.

In all cases, after programmatic approval has been obtained, the proposals recommended for funding will be forwarded to the Division of Grants and Agreements for review of business, financial, and policy implications and the processing and issuance of a grant or other agreement. Proposers are cautioned that only a Grants and Agreements Officer may make commitments, obligations or awards on behalf of NSF or authorize the expenditure of funds. No commitment on the part of NSF should be inferred from technical or budgetary discussions with an NSF Program Officer. A Principal Investigator or organization that makes financial or personnel commitments in the absence of a grant or cooperative agreement signed by the NSF Grants and Agreements Officer does so at their own risk.

Once an award or declination decision has been made, Principal Investigators are provided feedback about their proposals. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers or any reviewer-identifying information, are sent to the Principal Investigator/Project Director by the Program Officer. In addition, the proposer will receive an explanation of the decision to award or decline funding.

NIOSH Process: Upon completion of the NSF peer review process, NIOSH will conduct a second level of review for programmatic relevance and balance. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • summary ratings of the peer reviewers regarding scientific and technical merit,
  • alignment of the application with the NIOSH areas of interest identified in this announcement,
  • commitment of the applicant institution to collaborative efforts, and
  • availability of funds.

NASA Process: NASA will make final funding decisions based on the results of the peer review process; the selection official may take portfolio balance and other program-related factors into account when selecting proposals for award.

USDA/NIFA Process: USDA/NIFA will make final funding decisions based on the results of the peer review process. Applications selected for funding by NIFA will be forwarded to the USDA/NIFA Awards Management Division for award processing in accordance with the USDA/NIFA procedures. NIFA reserves the right to negotiate with the PD/PI and/or with the submitting organization or institution regarding project revisions (e.g., reductions in the scope of work, funding level, period, or method of support) prior to recommending any AFRI project for funding.

VII. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

A. Notification of the Award

Notification of the award will be made through use of standard processes of the relevant funding agencies. Organizations whose proposals are declined will be advised as promptly as possible by the cognizant NSF Program administering the program. (See Section VI.B. for additional information on the review process.)

B. Award Conditions

NSF:

An NSF award consists of: (1) the award notice, which includes any special provisions applicable to the award and any numbered amendments thereto; (2) the budget, which indicates the amounts, by categories of expense, on which NSF has based its support (or otherwise communicates any specific approvals or disapprovals of proposed expenditures); (3) the proposal referenced in the award notice; (4) the applicable award conditions, such as Grant General Conditions (GC-1); * or Research Terms and Conditions * and (5) any announcement or other NSF issuance that may be incorporated by reference in the award notice. Cooperative agreements also are administered in accordance with NSF Cooperative Agreement Financial and Administrative Terms and Conditions (CA-FATC) and the applicable Programmatic Terms and Conditions. NSF awards are electronically signed by an NSF Grants and Agreements Officer and transmitted electronically to the organization via e-mail.

*These documents may be accessed electronically on NSF's Website at https://www.nsf.gov/awards/managing/award_conditions.jsp?org=NSF. Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov.

More comprehensive information on NSF Award Conditions and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=aag.

Special Award Conditions:

Attribution of support in publications must acknowledge the joint program, as well as the funding organization and award number, by including the phrase, "as part of the Joint National Robotics Initiative program."

The final version of any accepted software and robotics operating systems sharing plans will become a condition of the award grant, contract or agreement. The effectiveness of software and robotics operating system sharing may be evaluated as part of the administrative review of each award.

NASA and NIOSH:

Contact the cognizant organization program officer for additional information.

USDA/NIFA Award Administration and Conditions:

Within the limit of funds available for such purpose, the NIFA awarding official shall make grants to those responsible, eligible applicants whose applications are judged most meritorious under the procedures set forth in this solicitation. The date specified by the NIFA awarding official as the effective date of the grant shall be no later than September 30 of the federal fiscal year in which the project is approved for support and funds are appropriated for such purpose, unless otherwise permitted by law. The project need not be initiated on the grant effective date, but as soon thereafter as practical so that project goals may be attained within the funded project period. All funds granted by NIFA under this solicitation may be used only for the purpose for which they are granted in accordance with the approved application and budget, regulations, terms and conditions of the award, applicable federal cost principles, USDA assistance regulations, and NIFA General Awards Administration Provisions at 7 CFR part 3430, subparts A through E.

Changes in Project Plans

  • The permissible changes by the grantee, PD(s), or other key project personnel in the approved project grant shall be limited to changes in methodology, techniques, or other similar aspects of the project to expedite achievement of the project's approved goals. If the grantee or the PD(s) is uncertain as to whether a change complies with this provision, the question must be referred to the Authorized Departmental Officer (ADO) for a final determination. The ADO is the signatory of the award document, not the program contact.
  • Changes in approved goals or objectives shall be requested by the grantee and approved in writing by the ADO prior to effecting such changes. In no event shall requests for such changes be approved which are outside the scope of the original approved project.
  • Changes in approved project leadership or the replacement or reassignment of other key project personnel shall be requested by the grantee and approved in writing by the ADO prior to effecting such changes.
  • Transfers of actual performance of the substantive programmatic work in whole or in part and provisions for payment of funds, whether or not Federal funds are involved, shall be requested by the grantee and approved in writing by the ADO prior to effecting such transfers, unless prescribed otherwise in the terms and conditions of the grant.
  • Changes in Project Period: The project period may be extended by NIFA without additional financial support, for such additional period(s) as the ADO determines may be necessary to complete or fulfill the purposes of an approved project, but in no case shall the total project period exceed five years. Any extension of time shall be conditioned upon prior request by the grantee and approval in writing by the ADO, unless prescribed otherwise in the terms and conditions of a grant.
  • Changes in Approved Budget: Changes in an approved budget must be requested by the grantee and approved in writing by the ADO prior to instituting such changes if the revision will involve transfers or expenditures of amounts requiring prior approval as set forth in the applicable Federal cost principles, Departmental regulations, or grant award.

Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research

In accordance with sections 2, 3, and 8 of 2 CFR Part 422, institutions that conduct USDA-funded extramural research must foster an atmosphere conducive to research integrity, bear primary responsibility for prevention and detection of research misconduct, and maintain and effectively communicate and train their staff regarding policies and procedures. In the event an application to NIFA results in an award, the Authorized Representative (AR) assures, through acceptance of the award, that the institution will comply with the above requirements. Award recipients shall, upon request, make available to NIFA the policies, procedures, and documentation to support the conduct of the training. See https://nifa.usda.gov/responsible-and-ethical-conduct-research for further information.

C. Reporting Requirements

NSF:

For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the Principal Investigator must submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer no later than 90 days prior to the end of the current budget period. (Some programs or awards require submission of more frequent project reports). No later than 120 days following expiration of a grant, the PI also is required to submit a final project report, and a project outcomes report for the general public.

Failure to provide the required annual or final project reports, or the project outcomes report, will delay NSF review and processing of any future funding increments as well as any pending proposals for all identified PIs and co-PIs on a given award. PIs should examine the formats of the required reports in advance to assure availability of required data.

PIs are required to use NSF's electronic project-reporting system, available through Research.gov, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports. Such reports provide information on accomplishments, project participants (individual and organizational), publications, and other specific products and impacts of the project. Submission of the report via Research.gov constitutes certification by the PI that the contents of the report are accurate and complete. The project outcomes report also must be prepared and submitted using Research.gov. This report serves as a brief summary, prepared specifically for the public, of the nature and outcomes of the project. This report will be posted on the NSF website exactly as it is submitted by the PI.

More comprehensive information on NSF Reporting Requirements and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=aag.

Additional data may be required for NSF sponsored Cooperative Agreements.

NIOSH:

For grant or cooperative agreement projects supported using NIOSH funds, grantees should plan to comply with the NSF reporting requirements

NASA:

The reporting requirements will be consistent with 2 CFR 1800.902, “Technical Publications and Reports,” and Exhibit E - Required Publications and Reports of the NASA Grant and Cooperative Agreement Manual. Grants and cooperative agreements typically require annual and final technical reports, financial reports, and final patent reports. The following additional requirements will be incorporated into the NASA NRI-2.0 awards:

  • Progress Reports due every 90 days;
  • Continuation Review Package/Presentation: For awards greater than one year, an annual continuation package and virtual presentation will also be required; and
  • Annual Technical Seminar: The PI shall present a technical seminar at a minimum of one NASA center annually.

USDA/NIFA:

Expected Program Outputs and Reporting Requirements

The output and reporting requirements are included in the award terms and conditions (see https://nifa.usda.gov/terms-and-conditions for information about NIFA award terms). If there are any program or award-specific award terms, those, if any, will be identified in the award.

Other USDA/NIFA Requirements: Several federal statutes and regulations apply to grant applications considered for review and to project grants awarded under this program. These may include, but are not limited to, the ones listed on the NIFA web page: https://nifa.usda.gov/regulations-and-guidelines .

The NIFA Federal Assistance Policy Guide — a compendium of basic NIFA policies and procedures that apply to all NIFA awards, unless there are statutory, regulatory, or award-specific requirements to the contrary — is available at http://nifa.usda.gov/policy-guide.

VIII. AGENCY CONTACTS

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

General inquiries regarding this program should be made to:

  • Scott Acton, CISE/CCF, telephone: (703) 292-2124, email: sacton@nsf.gov

  • Radhakisan Baheti, ENG/ECCS, telephone: (703) 292-8339, email: rbaheti@nsf.gov

  • Jordan Berg, ENG/CMMI, telephone: (703) 292-5365, email: jberg@nsf.gov

  • Irina Dolinskaya, ENG/CMMI, telephone: (703) 292-7078, email: idolinsk@nsf.gov

  • James Donlon, CISE/IIS, telephone: (703) 292-8074, email: jdonlon@nsf.gov

  • Ephraim P. Glinert, CISE/IIS, telephone: (703) 292-8930, email: eglinert@nsf.gov

  • Wu He, EHR/DRL, telephone: (703) 292-7593, email: wuhe@nsf.gov

  • Tatiana Korelsky, CISE/IIS, telephone: (703) 292-8930, email: tkorelsk@nsf.gov

  • Bruce Kramer, ENG/CMMI, telephone: (703) 292-5348, email: bkramer@nsf.gov

  • Frederick M. Kronz, SBE/OAD, telephone: (703) 292-7283, email: fkronz@nsf.gov

  • Wendy Nilsen, CISE/IIS, telephone: (703) 292-2568, email: wnilsen@nsf.gov

  • Erion Plaku, CISE/IIS, telephone: (703) 292-8695, email: eplaku@nsf.gov

  • Jie Yang, CISE/IIS, telephone: (703) 292-4768, email: jyang@nsf.gov

For questions related to the use of FastLane or Research.gov, contact:

  • FastLane and Research.gov Help Desk: 1-800-673-6188

    FastLane Help Desk e-mail: fastlane@nsf.gov.

    Research.gov Help Desk e-mail: rgov@nsf.gov

For questions relating to Grants.gov contact:

  • Grants.gov Contact Center: If the Authorized Organizational Representatives (AOR) has not received a confirmation message from Grants.gov within 48 hours of submission of application, please contact via telephone: 1-800-518-4726; e-mail: support@grants.gov.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Dr. Kimberly Hambuchen
NASA Johnson Space Center
2101 NASA Parkway, Mail Code ER4
Houston, TX 77058

Email: kimberly.a.hambuchen@nasa.gov
Telephone: (281) 483-7915

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Frank Hearl, PE
Patriots Plaza 1
395 E Street, SW, Suite 9200
Washington, DC 20201

Email: fjh1@cdc.gov
Telephone: (202) 245-0625

United States Department of Agriculture

Steven J. Thomson, Ph.D.
Acting Division Director, Agricultural Systems
National Program Leader
USDA-NIFA
6501 Beacon Drive
5NW054, 5th Floor
Kansas City, MO 64133

Ph: 202-603-1053
Email: steven.j.thomson@usda.gov

IX. OTHER INFORMATION

The NSF website provides the most comprehensive source of information on NSF Directorates (including contact information), programs and funding opportunities. Use of this website by potential proposers is strongly encouraged. In addition, "NSF Update" is an information-delivery system designed to keep potential proposers and other interested parties apprised of new NSF funding opportunities and publications, important changes in proposal and award policies and procedures, and upcoming NSF Grants Conferences. Subscribers are informed through e-mail or the user's Web browser each time new publications are issued that match their identified interests. "NSF Update" also is available on NSF's website.

Grants.gov provides an additional electronic capability to search for Federal government-wide grant opportunities. NSF funding opportunities may be accessed via this mechanism. Further information on Grants.gov may be obtained at https://www.grants.gov.

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
https://www.nsf.gov

NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh

NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
http://www.nasa.gov

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE,
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

http://www.nifa.usda.gov

PUBLIC BRIEFINGS

One or more collaborative webinar briefings with question and answer functionality may be held prior to the submission deadline date. Schedules will be posted on the sponsor announcement web sites.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent Federal agency created by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (42 USC 1861-75). The Act states the purpose of the NSF is "to promote the progress of science; [and] to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare by supporting research and education in all fields of science and engineering."

NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the US. The Foundation accounts for about one-fourth of Federal support to academic institutions for basic research.

NSF receives approximately 55,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects, of which approximately 11,000 are funded. In addition, the Foundation receives several thousand applications for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships. The agency operates no laboratories itself but does support National Research Centers, user facilities, certain oceanographic vessels and Arctic and Antarctic research stations. The Foundation also supports cooperative research between universities and industry, US participation in international scientific and engineering efforts, and educational activities at every academic level.

Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED) provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities to work on NSF-supported projects. See the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide Chapter II.E.6 for instructions regarding preparation of these types of proposals.

The National Science Foundation has Telephonic Device for the Deaf (TDD) and Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) capabilities that enable individuals with hearing impairments to communicate with the Foundation about NSF programs, employment or general information. TDD may be accessed at (703) 292-5090 and (800) 281-8749, FIRS at (800) 877-8339.

The National Science Foundation Information Center may be reached at (703) 292-5111.

The National Science Foundation promotes and advances scientific progress in the United States by competitively awarding grants and cooperative agreements for research and education in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

To get the latest information about program deadlines, to download copies of NSF publications, and to access abstracts of awards, visit the NSF Website at https://www.nsf.gov

  • Location:

2415 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22314

  • For General Information
    (NSF Information Center):

(703) 292-5111

  • TDD (for the hearing-impaired):

(703) 292-5090

  • To Order Publications or Forms:

Send an e-mail to:

nsfpubs@nsf.gov

or telephone:

(703) 292-7827

  • To Locate NSF Employees:

(703) 292-5111

PRIVACY ACT AND PUBLIC BURDEN STATEMENTS

The information requested on proposal forms and project reports is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. The information on proposal forms will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals; and project reports submitted by awardees will be used for program evaluation and reporting within the Executive Branch and to Congress. The information requested may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the proposal review process; to proposer institutions/grantees to provide or obtain data regarding the proposal review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers and researchers and educators as necessary to complete assigned work; to other government agencies or other entities needing information regarding applicants or nominees as part of a joint application review process, or in order to coordinate programs or policy; and to another Federal agency, court, or party in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the government is a party. Information about Principal Investigators may be added to the Reviewer file and used to select potential candidates to serve as peer reviewers or advisory committee members. See System of Record Notices, NSF-50, "Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records.” Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of receiving an award.

An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, an information collection unless it displays a valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The OMB control number for this collection is 3145-0058. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions. Send comments regarding the burden estimate and any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to:

Suzanne H. Plimpton
Reports Clearance Officer
Office of the General Counsel
National Science Foundation
Alexandria, VA 22314

X. APPENDIX

Legislative Authority:

The USDA authority for this solicitation is contained in Section 7406 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (FCEA) (Pub. L. 110-246) which amends section 2(b) of the Competitive, Special, and Facilities Research Grant Act (7 U.S.C. 3157) to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to establish the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI); a new competitive grant program to provide funding for fundamental and applied research, extension, and education to address food and agricultural sciences. AFRI is subject to the provision found at 7 CFR Part 3430.

The NIOSH authority and regulations are described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance and is not subject to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health Systems Agency Review. Awards are made under the authorization of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Section 20(a) and 21(a) (29 USC 669(a) and 29 USC 670); Federal Mine Safety and Health Act, Section 501(a), 30 USC 1 (Note), and 30 USC 951(a);and Section 301 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 241) and under Federal Regulations 42 CFR Part 52. All awards are subject to 45 CFR Part75, the terms and conditions, and other considerations described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement.



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