This document has been archived and replaced by NSF 14-500.

National Robotics Initiative (NRI)
The realization of co-robots acting in direct support of individuals and groups

Program Solicitation
NSF 12-607

Replaces Document(s):
NSF 11-553

NSF Logo

National Science Foundation

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

Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences

Directorate for Engineering

Directorate for Education & Human Resources

NIH        logo



National Institutes of Health

    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

    National Institute on Aging

    National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

    Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

    National Institute of Nursing Research

NIH/NCAT   logo



    National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

USDA       logo



U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

NIFA       logo



    National Institute of Food and Agriculture

NASA       logo



National Aeronautics and Space Administration

    Directorate for Education and Human Resources, Game Changing Technology Division

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

     December 11, 2012

Small Proposals

     January 23, 2013

     January 23, Annually Thereafter

Large Proposals

     November 14, 2013

     November 14, Annually Thereafter

Small Proposals

IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND REVISION NOTES

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), NSF 13-1, was issued on October 4, 2012 and is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 14, 2013. Please be advised that the guidelines contained in NSF 13-1 apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity. Proposers who opt to submit prior to January 14, 2013, must also follow the guidelines contained in NSF 13-1.

Please be aware that significant changes have been made to the PAPPG to implement revised merit review criteria based on the National Science Board (NSB) report, National Science Foundation's Merit Review Criteria: Review and Revisions. While the two merit review criteria remain unchanged (Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts), guidance has been provided to clarify and improve the function of the criteria. Changes will affect the project summary and project description sections of proposals. Annual and final reports also will be affected.

A by-chapter summary of this and other significant changes is provided at the beginning of both the Grant Proposal Guide and the Award & Administration Guide.

Please note that this program solicitation may contain supplemental proposal preparation guidance and/or guidance that deviates from the guidelines established in the Grant Proposal Guide.

Public Briefings: One or more collaborative webinar briefings with question and answer functionality will be held beginning in Fall 2012 prior to the first submission deadline date. Schedules will be posted on the sponsor announcement websites.

Revision Summary: This is a revision of NSF 11-553, the solicitation for the National Robotics Initiative (NRI). Letters of intent are no longer required. The limit on the number of proposals in which a PI may participate has been clarified. A list of all researchers involved in the project is now required as a Supplementary Document. The Coordination Plan is now required to be submitted as a Supplementary Document. Additional NIH information and requirements are included.

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

General Information

Program Title:

National Robotics Initiative (NRI)
The realization of co-robots acting in direct support of individuals and groups

Synopsis of Program:

The goal of the National Robotics Initiative is to 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 such co-robots acting in direct support of and in a symbiotic relationship with human partners is supported by multiple agencies of the federal government including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The purpose of this program is the development of this next generation of robotics, to advance the capability and usability of such systems and artifacts, and to encourage existing and new communities to focus on innovative application areas. It will address the entire life cycle from fundamental research and development to manufacturing and deployment. Methods for the establishment and infusion of robotics in educational curricula and research to gain a better understanding of the long term social, behavioral and economic implications of co-robots across all areas of human activity are important parts of this initiative. Collaboration between academic, industry, non-profit and other organizations is strongly encouraged to establish better linkages between fundamental science and technology development, deployment and use.

Two classes of proposals will be considered in response to this solicitation:

  1. Small projects: One or more investigators spanning 1 to 5 years.
  2. Large projects: Multi-disciplinary teams spanning 3 to 5 years.

As detailed in the solicitation, appropriate scientific areas of investigation may be related to any of the participating funding organizations. Questions concerning a particular project's focus, direction and relevance to a participating funding organization should be addressed to the appropriate person in the list of agency contacts found in section VIII of the 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.

  • Richard Voyles, CISE/IIS, telephone: (703) 292-8930, email: rvoyles@nsf.gov

  • George T. Chiu, ENG/CMMI, telephone: (703) 292-5365, email: gchiu@nsf.gov

  • Ted A. Conway, ENG/CBET, telephone: (703) 292-7091, email: tconway@nsf.gov

  • Darryl N. Williams, EHR/DRL, telephone: (703) 292-7906, email: dnwillia@nsf.gov

  • Satyandra K. Gupta, CISE/IIS, 1125, telephone: (703) 292-8930, email: skgupta@nsf.gov

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

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

  • Mitra Basu, CISE/CCF, telephone: (703) 292-8910, email: mbasu@nsf.gov

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

  • 10.310 --- Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
  • 43.001 --- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Science)
  • 43.008 --- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Education)
  • 47.041 --- Engineering
  • 47.070 --- Computer and Information Science and Engineering
  • 47.075 --- Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences
  • 47.076 --- Education and Human Resources
  • 93.286 --- National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
  • 93.350 --- National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
  • 93.361 --- National Institute of Nursing Research
  • 93.853 --- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
  • 93.865 --- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
  • 93.866 --- National Institute on Aging

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: 25 to 40 per year: 20-30 small awards and 5-10 large awards, subject to availability of funds (The funding proportion between small and large will not mirror the numeric proportion.)

Anticipated Funding Amount: $40,000,000 to $50,000,000 per year, subject to availability of funds

Eligibility Information

Organization Limit:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:
  • Organizational eligibility is contained in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). Additional eligibility restrictions apply to USDA/NIFA grants (see section IV).

    The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg.

    Commercial enterprises with greater emphasis on development activities should consider the SBIR/STTR companion programs (http://www.nsf.gov/eng/iip/sbir/) and other agency SBIR/STTR websites.

PI Limit:

None Specified

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

None Specified

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI: 2

An investigator may participate as PI or co-PI in no more than two proposals submitted in response to this solicitation per year. This limit does not apply to other senior personnel.

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.

Proposals submitted in response to this solicitation may not duplicate or be substantially similar to other proposals concurrently under consideration by other NSF, NASA, NIH or USDA programs or study sections. 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 Applicable
  • Preliminary Proposal Submission: Not Applicable
  • Full Proposals:
    • Full Proposals submitted via FastLane: NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide, Part I: Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) Guidelines apply. The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg.
    • Full Proposals submitted via Grants.gov: NSF Grants.gov Application Guide: A Guide for the Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov Guidelines apply (Note: The NSF Grants.gov Application Guide is available on the Grants.gov website and on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=grantsgovguide)

B. Budgetary Information

  • Cost Sharing Requirements: Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.
  • Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations:

    For NSF, Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) Guidelines apply.

    For NIH, indirect costs on foreign subawards/subcontracts will be limited to eight (8) percent.

    For awards made by USDA/NIFA: Section 7132 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act amended section 1462 of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 (7 U.S.C. 3310), increasing the limit on recovery of indirect costs from 20 percent to 22 percent of total Federal funds provided under the award. Therefore, the recovery of indirect costs on awards made by NIFA under this program area may not exceed the lesser of the institution's official negotiated indirect cost rate or the equivalent of 22 percent of total Federal funds awarded.

  • Other Budgetary Limitations: Other budgetary limitations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

C. Due Dates

  • Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

         December 11, 2012

    Small Proposals

         January 23, 2013

         January 23, Annually Thereafter

    Large Proposals

         November 14, 2013

         November 14, Annually Thereafter

    Small Proposals

Proposal Review Information Criteria

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

Award Administration Information

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

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

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/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

The goal of the National Robotics Initiative is to 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 such co-robots acting in direct support of and in a symbiotic relationship with human partners is supported by multiple agencies of the federal government including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This solicitation describes the goals and features of this National Robotics Initiative (NRI) with particular attention to fundamental research and education by academia and industry built on open platforms, enabling demonstration systems and transfer to commercial exploitation. Proposers more focused on development activities should consider SBIR, STTR, and other related solicitations. Considerations that apply to basic research grants are outlined in the Program Description in section II.A Research; more detailed information on the domain-specific interests of NASA, NIH, and USDA is briefly described in sections II.A.2, and additional clarification may be obtained directly from them. Within NSF, NRI is administered jointly by the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering and the Directorate for Engineering. Supporting Directorates include the Directorate for Education and Human Resources and the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences. Within NASA, NRI Phase I is administered by the Office of the Chief Technologist, with sponsoring Directorates in Science, Exploration, Space Operations and Aeronautics Research. Within the NIH, NRI is led by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, and is supported by multiple Institutes and Centers of the NIH. Within USDA, NRI is led by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Contacts for these and related activities at other sponsoring agencies are referenced in section VIII of this document.

Over the past five years, tremendous advancements in robotics technology have enabled a new generation of products in industries as diverse as manufacturing, logistics, medicine, healthcare, military, agriculture, and consumer products. It is becoming increasingly evident that these early, next generation products are a harbinger of numerous, large scale, and global, robotics technology markets likely to develop in the coming decade. Additionally, robotics science and technology together with the science of learning have the potential to play a very important role in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education as a unique, integrative discipline that brings together basic science, applied engineering and creative thinking.

The U.S. robotics industry largely collapsed in the 1980's, with a substantial market share decline to below 10% of global sales. In the last 20 years this market has revived, with the industrial robot manipulators of the 1980's now being augmented with new and different forms of robots. Surgical robots, sentry robots, and household robots emerged as new sub-markets presently exceeding the industrial robot sector. Although the industrial robots for manufacturing (e.g., for welding, painting, handling) are still dominated by foreign industry, new markets for service robots were created by U.S. inventors, U.S. Government initiatives, and U.S. investors and are now dominated by U.S. industry. One of the key discriminators between the industrial robot and these new robotic systems is the assumption of complete isolation of the industrial robot from humans; such large, fast and dangerous machines are best left alone. The new markets focus on robots that work beside, or cooperatively with, people to extend or augment human capacities.

To assess the opportunities and challenges for a national robotics initiative, over 140 robotics experts from industry, laboratories, and universities from across the country joined forces to produce a definitive report entitled A Roadmap for US Robotics- From Internet to Robotics (http://www.us-robotics.us/reports/CCC%20Report.pdf). Other informative reference reports include the Office of the Secretary of Defense Unmanned Systems Roadmap (2009-2034) (http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf&AD=ADA522247) and the WTEC Panel Report on International Assessment of Research and Development In Robotics (http://www.wtec.org/robotics/report/screen-robotics-final-report.pdf). Robotics encompasses a broad array of integrated actuation, electronic, sensor, software, man-machine interface, and other enabling technologies to produce next generation, intelligent devices, platforms, vehicles, and other products that operate with ever-increasing levels of intelligence, safety and autonomy. To varying degrees, such solutions automatically perceive, monitor, and map their surroundings; locate, detect and identify objects of interest; make decisions based on an understanding of their environment and various user inputs; and take the appropriate, necessary actions. The reports suggest ways in which robots in the future can serve as our co-workers, our co-protectors, and our co-inhabitants.

This theme recognizes the emerging mechanical, electrical and software technologies that will make the next generation of robotic systems able to safely co-exist in close proximity to humans in the pursuit of mundane, dangerous, precise or expensive tasks. Co-robots will need to establish a symbiotic relationship with their human partners, each leveraging their relative strengths in the planning and performance of a task. This means, among other things, that for broad diffusion, access, and use (and hence, to achieve societal impacts), co-robots must be relatively cheap, easy to use, and available anywhere. As the U.S. population ages and becomes more culturally and linguistically diverse, these co-robots may serve to increase the efficiency, productivity and safety of individuals in all activities and phases of life, and their ubiquitous deployment has the potential to measurably improve the state of national health, education and learning, personal and public safety, security, the character and composition of a heterogeneous workforce, and the economy, more generally. Widespread deployment may also pose ethical issues and exacerbate disparities among social, linguistic and demographic groups. Thus, basic social, economic, and behavioral research is a critical element in understanding and modeling both the individual and aggregate human/co-robot interactions.

To help achieve these goals, the National Robotics Initiative aims to:

  • Pursue fundamental research in robotics science and technology and in supporting specialties in machine cognition, language understanding and production, human-robot interaction, perception, systems and other disciplines relevant to co-robot capability and performance.
  • Explore how co-robotics designs can be enhanced by leveraging and integrating our understanding of human cognition, perception, action control, linguistics, and developmental science.
  • Establish open system robotics architectures and common hardware and software platforms enabling the technical community to build upon and interface to a layered capability or functional model and set of protocols.
  • Create a repository of software, hardware and data to encourage sharing of results and coordination of efforts on hardware and software, and contributions from users and "citizen engineers", and create the cyberinfrastructure to enable cloud robotics. Data will include standard test sets and specifications for common performance measures of algorithms and systems to encourage use of domain-specific metrics.
  • Develop an understanding of the long term social, behavioral and economic implications of co-robots across all areas of human activity.
  • Create testbeds for integration of the outputs of multiple activities and their testing, demonstration and evaluation on high level and complex tasks.
  • Transfer new platforms and/or functional capabilities to agency mission applications and facilitate agency-specific technology demonstrations of robotic systems over the period of the initiative.
  • Produce empirical findings that contribute to knowledge about the use of robotics to facilitate STEM learning across the K-16 continuum, with particular emphasis being placed on means to stimulate and motivate participation in STEM careers and broaden participation in them.
  • Sponsor a range of projects from one or more investigators to multi-faceted collaborative efforts that may include academic and industrial scientists in the core technologies; domain application specialists; educators; and social, behavioral and economic scientists.
  • Establish competitions among funded projects for best performance of tasks to be defined by the participating program officers and managers. Competing teams may be comprised of individuals or groups with the option of partnering with unfunded collaborators from academia or industry.
  • Coordinate with a separately funded companion effort to generate such advances leading to commercial products and services through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs and independent business plan competitions.

NIH Guide Notice NOT-EB-11-006 is being updated in parallel with this solicitation.

II. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

The primary purposes of this initiative are to provide leadership in research fundamental to the development of the next generation of robotics, particularly co-robotics, to advance the capability and usability of such systems and artifacts, and to encourage existing and new communities to focus on innovative application areas. This Initiative looks to stimulate partnering arrangements necessary to create next-generation operational systems in such areas as manufacturing, space and undersea exploration, healthcare and rehabilitation, military and homeland security, civil and environmental infrastructure protection, food production, processing, and distribution, assistive devices for improving independence and quality of life, and safer driving. It will address the entire life cycle from fundamental research and development to industry manufacturing and deployment. Methods for the establishment and infusion of robotics in educational curricula and research to gain a better understanding of the long term social, behavioral and economic implications of co-robots across all areas of human activity are important parts of this initiative.

Collaboration among academic, industry, non-profit and other organizations is strongly encouraged to establish better linkages between fundamental science and technology development and use, through partnerships among researchers, applications developers, users and industry.

While the NRI encourages collaboration between academic and industrial partners in the fundamental research objectives, development-oriented proposals are encouraged to consider an appropriate SBIR program.

II.A. Research

The breadth of fundamental robotics research to be pursued is illustrated in Figure 1, NRI Technology Space. Topics range from cognition and knowledge representation to architectures and control mechanisms; perception; human-robot interaction, cooperation and adaptation; language understanding and production; multi-networked agents; mobility and manipulation; and human-connected cognitive prosthetics, exo-skeletons and soft (non-rigid) structures. These areas are inclusive to this program, but by no means exclusive of others. The scope of the application domains perceived as worthy and viable adopters of this technology is illustrated in Figure 2, NRI Application Space. They exemplify the application of robotic systems as co-workers, co-inhabitants, co-explorers and co-defenders. Again, the list in the graphic is inclusive, but by no means exclusive.

Representative NRI Technology Space

Figure 1. Representative NRI Technology Space


II.A.1. Broad-area Research

In contrast to current systems that use limited-reasoning strategies or address problems in narrow contexts, new co-robot systems will be characterized by their flexibility, resourcefulness, varied modeling or reasoning approaches, and use of real-world data in real time, demonstrating a level of intelligence and adaptability seen in humans and animals. Research on relevant aspects of human cognition, perception, and action has the potential to be especially useful in this regard. This type of research may enhance the design of robotic systems by mimicking human reasoning and action planning. This approach may also be helpful for designing co-robotic systems that will be able to fruitfully collaborate with humans. Thus, the research program is necessarily cross-disciplinary engaging basic research in the behavioral and social sciences, education, as well as computer science and engineering.

Fundamental research topics of broad interest across the agencies include, but are not limited to:

  • Problem solving architectures that integrate reasoning, motor, perceptual, and language capabilities and that can learn from experience.
  • Hybrid architectures that integrate or combine different methods, such as deductive, probabilistic, analogical, case-based, symbolic, or sub-symbolic reasoning.
  • Cognitive optimization - general-purpose systems that learn to maximize reward or utility, using new, more powerful model-based forms of adaptive approximate dynamic programming (ADP), reinforcement learning or adaptive critics, implemented via universal nonlinear function approximators compatible with massively parallel chips.
  • Safe and soft (non-rigid) structures and mechanisms with smooth, pliable and reactive surfaces and elastic drive trains and actuators.
  • Computational models of human cognition, perception, and communication for commonsense or specialized domains and tasks, including acquisition and representation of contextual knowledge.
  • Cognitive prediction - universal learning systems such as recurrent neural networks, which can learn to predict, estimate or model any set of time series, using testbeds ranging from simple time-series to streaming video, including time-series from unknown stochastic dynamic systems sampled from well-defined prior probabilities.

Representative NRI Application Space

Figure 2. Representative NRI Application Space

  • Novel advances in and integration across areas of artificial intelligence, such as machine learning, planning and navigation, problem solving, knowledge representation, and multi-agent systems.
  • Computer vision systems that address the longstanding problems concerning the recognition and modeling of contours, shapes, regions, objects, people, scenes, events, and activities.
  • Scaling up of learning systems to handle greater complexity in space and in time, in a mathematically well-grounded way, exploiting fundamental principles such as symmetry in space or multiple time scales (including skill learning and learning how best to decide on the use of skills).
  • Synergistic and collaborative research on innovative and emerging technologies to improve the intelligence, mobility, autonomy, manipulability, adaptability, and interactivity of robotic systems operating in unstructured and uncertain environments.
  • Research on application-inspired topics - intelligent and assistive robotics for healthcare, mobile, marine, aerial, exploratory and rescue applications, advanced manufacturing, and social robotics.
  • Research on platform specific topics that are unique to micro- and nano-robotics, neuro-robotics, humanoid robotics, and networked multi-robot team coordination and cooperation.
  • Research on enabling technologies that support novel approaches and mechanisms for robotic mobility and actuation; new sensors, sensor networks, and related strategies to improve perception, cognition, learning, adaptation, haptics, autonomy, and multi-modal human-robot interaction.
  • Research on controls and dynamical systems; optimization, design, and decision algorithms; and analysis of complex engineered robotic systems.
  • Research on innovative and emerging robotic technologies for monitoring and surveillance of our environment to improve quality of life.
  • Research on robotic technologies that will enable the development of interactive and adaptive learning environments for learners of all ages, across all domains (e.g. co-robot systems that support personalized learning).
  • Models of uptake, diffusion, and use among different demographic and social groups, including appropriate incentives and potential disparities and ethical implications; workforce participation among various diverse groups, including the elderly and non-native English speakers; and models of human-robot collaboration.
  • Computational approaches and architectures for analyzing, understanding, and generating speech and other communicative forms (e.g., gesture, haptic); interaction of communicative forms; and dialogue, conversation, and cross-language capabilities.
  • Assistive technologies enabling humans to amplify or compensate for their capabilities, with systems that interpret their intent, make context based decisions, and allow people to operate beyond their diminished or normal physical, cognitive or sensory capabilities, including prosthetics and exo-skeletal augmentation.
  • Sophisticated sensor/biosensor systems: real time sensing systems with high spatial and temporal resolution and target specificity; sensors capable of discriminative monitoring of multiple agents such as chemical and biological threat agents, biomarkers and metabolites, plant pathogens, sensors for food quality, etc.

We anticipate periodic PI meetings of research investigators, testbed, application and education developers, industrial partners and sponsoring agency representatives. These meetings will be highlighted by technology demonstrations and progress reports, and will provide a forum for all to propose and discuss high-risk, high-return ideas and challenges emanating from academia, industry and government.

PIs are encouraged to have some of their students and postdoctoral fellows involved in NRI projects also attend these meetings.

II.A.2. Sponsoring Agency Mission Specific Research

NSF will consider for funding proposals addressing any of the areas described above in section II.A.1., Broad-area Research or others related to and supporting them, as well as those described below in sections II.B and II.C. NSF strongly encourages potentially transformative research in core robotic technologies and education.

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NASA encourages robotics research and technology development to enhance NASA's aeronautics and space missions. NASA seeks innovative proposals that will significantly: (1) extend exploration capabilities beyond human spaceflight limitations; (2) reduce risk and cost in human spaceflight and on-orbit assembly; (3) improve science, exploration mission operations, and launch systems performance; (4) increase the performance of autonomous robotic missions; (4) enable robots and autonomy to be used as a force multiplier; and/or (5) improve autonomy and safety for operating unmanned aerial vehicles.

NASA's top level goals are to:

  • Create and capture new markets for the U.S. robotics industry.
  • Invent new robotic systems for assisting astronauts in dangerous and expensive missions.
  • Develop innovative robotic explorers for missions beyond human craft, extending human reach.

The critical technologies needed to address these needs are summarized in the NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and in particular the Roadmap for Technology Area 4 (Robotics, Tele-Robotics and Autonomous Systems):

  • Sensing & perception: Space-relevant sensors (environment, hazards, etc). Computationally efficient and infrastructure-free navigation (localization, hazard avoidance, etc). Tactile and force perception for equipment deployment, sampling, repair, etc.
  • Mobility: Systems to improve the transport of crew, instruments, and payloads on planetary surfaces, asteroids, and in-space. This includes active suspension, grappling/anchoring, legged locomotion, freeflying and other transport modes.
  • Manipulation: Systems to improve handling and maintenance of payloads and assets. Fusing vision, tactile and force control for manipulation. Exceeding human-like dexterous manipulation. Mobile manipulation that is safe for working with and near humans.
  • Human-system interaction: Systems that enable crew and ground controllers to better operate, monitor and supervise robots. This includes robot user interfaces, automated performance monitoring, ground data system tools, command planning and sequencing, real-time visualization/notification, and techniques for expressing intent between humans and robots.
  • Autonomy: Software and systems to enable operations of robotic systems in dynamic and uncertain environments with various levels of human interaction. This includes planning and scheduling, robust execution and reasoning, integrated system health management and validation/verification.
  • System engineering: Robot software and hardware architectures that improve operational robustness and longevity, facilitate maintainability and upgradeability, and reduce costs associated with integration and test.

NASA's need to assist humans in space is well aligned with the safety, productivity, interface, and other challenges that co-workers and co-explorers have in common. NASA is particularly interested in robotic technologies that increase the productivity of human explorers and that allow humans to amplify their capabilities. NASA's future includes robots that perform pre-cursor work to help prepare for future human activity; robots that go into space with humans as our assistants; robots that work after humans on tasks that complete, complement, or supplement human activity, and robots that are sent to explore beyond the reach of human missions.

More information about NASA's Technology Roadmaps can be found at the following NASA website (look for Technology Area TA04, Robotics, Tele-robotics and Autonomous Systems): http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/strategic_integration/technology_roadmap.html. More information about NASA's involvement in the National Robotics Initiative can be found at the following NASA website: http://www.nasa.gov/robotics. More information on NASA solicitations can be found at the following NASA website: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/home/solicitations.html.

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The NIH institutes support development of robotic applications to surgery, health intervention, prostheses, rehabilitation, behavioral therapy, personalized care and wellness/health promotion. The most significant challenges will be in addressing safety issues, especially for applications to be used in home settings and surgical settings where integration of complex systems will be required. Development of robotic applications is important to NIH because of the potential significant impact on healthcare in the future. Human assistive devices will revolutionize healthcare in the next 20 years as much as personal electronics have changed our daily lives in the past two decades. Human assistive devices have the potential to improve healthcare and promote independent living by providing assistance to healthcare providers and to individuals needing care. Individuals can benefit from robotic applications that aid recovery, restore function, help patients resume of life activities, and improve surgical procedures. Affordable and accessible robotic technology can facilitate wellness and personalized, home-based health care. Continual health assessment and personalized intervention have the potential to offset the shrinking size of the healthcare workforce and the growing elderly and disabled population. In the future, robotics that quickly adapt to changes of the user in the environment will enable persons with disabilities to return to the work of their choice, play instruments, perform sports and engage in all aspects of human life with endurance and dignity. Mobility and manipulation aids can significantly improve the independence of the temporarily and permanently disabled. Robotic assist devices capable of microsurgical procedures will enable surgeons to transcend the physical limitations of the human hand and eye.

Examples of biomedical research and technology development include:

  • Home care, personalized care for special-needs populations
  • Robotic wellness/health promotion
  • Robot-assisted recovery and rehabilitation
  • Robotic behavioral therapy
  • Surgical and interventional robots
  • Robotic replacement of diminished/lost function
  • High-throughput robotic technologies

The areas of research and development listed above are meant to be representative and not comprehensive. Additional areas of NIH scientific and technological interests related to robotics include, but are not limited to, those found in the following Funding Opportunity Announcement for small businesses: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-10-279.html

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The USDA encourages robotics research, applications, and education to enhance food production, processing, and distribution that benefits consumers and rural communities. In the process, it is expected that projects will engage academia, industry, stakeholders/users, students, and other organizations to identify fundamental research needs and to conduct both basic and applied research, while providing training for the next generation of scientists, engineers, and technologists. Projects involving the following topics are particularly desired, although other robotics topics will be considered:

High-Throughput Robotic Technologies. Examples include the following areas:

  • Automated systems for inspection, sorting, processing, or handling of animal or plant products (including forest products) in post-harvest, processing, or product distribution environments.
  • Improved robotics for inspection, sorting, and handling of plants and flowers in greenhouses and nurseries, or for handling (e.g., sorting, vaccinating, deworming) large numbers of live animals.
  • 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.

Multi-Agent Command, Coordination, and Communication. 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 human co-workers.
  • Communication protocols and standards for inter-agent coordination and unattended collaboration.
  • Distributed intelligence and fault tolerance that will allow high-level task completion despite failure of one or more agents.

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All sponsor-targeted proposals:

  • Those proposals that are targeting a specific agency sponsorship should indicate so in the last line of their 1-page Project Summary, e.g., "Requested funding agency:" followed by that agency's abbreviated name, "NSF", "NASA", "NIH", 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.

II.B. Testbeds and Applications

This initiative also aims to fund the development of co-robot testbeds for technology testing, demonstration and validation, and as prototype resources for domain communities - technical and non-technical. Support will be provided for development and implementation of co-robot applications, which demonstrate new technologies and are sufficiently robust and stable to serve identifiable research communities and encourage collaborative work environments. Applications projects are expected to result in enduring environments for research, particularly integration of outputs from multiple projects, learning, and advancing public awareness.

Example activities are:

  • Integration of functional components into useful systems to serve specific application domains and identifying unique functional and performance requirements, technical and design issues, and metrics of performance and utility.
  • Applications that enhance the general functionality of existing and future co-robot systems by providing new concepts and tools for their development and evaluation.
  • Specialized co-robot applications designed for specific knowledge domains and communities (manufacturing, defense, healthcare, agriculture, assistive technology, etc.).
  • High-risk, "breakthrough" applications capable of providing new conceptual paradigms for co-robots and alter work and social practices on a grand scale.

II.C. Planning Testbeds and Applications for K-16 Education

To explore the linking of robotics research efforts and testbeds for K-16 education, NSF's Directorate for Education and Human Resources will provide small project level funding for planning, study, and prototyping projects. Successful applicants are expected to demonstrate high potential to advance K-16 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Due to limited funds and the multi-agency nature of this solicitation, education-focused proposals are discouraged for the large competition.

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 impact on student engagement, motivation to learn STEM content, and STEM career motivation.

II.D. Infrastructure Requirements and Support

II.D.1. Sharing Plan for software and robotics operating system

A dissemination plan for using and sharing software and the robotics operating system, with appropriate timelines, must be included in the proposal. This should be included in the Supplementary Data Management Plan document. There is no prescribed single license for a robotics operating system produced through grants, contracts and agreements corresponding to this announcement. However, the government does have goals for software dissemination and sharing of the robotics operating systems, and reviewers will be instructed to evaluate the dissemination plan relative to these goals:

i. The software and robotics operating system should be easily accessible to researchers and educators in the non-profit sector, such as institutions of education, research institutions, and government laboratories, and available to cooperating commercial entities.

ii. The terms of software and robotics operating system availability should permit the dissemination and commercialization of enhanced or customized versions of the software, or incorporation of the software or pieces of it into other software robotics systems.

iii. To preserve utility to the community, the software and robotics operating system should be transferable such that another individual or team can continue or enhance development in the event that the original investigators are unwilling or unable to do so.

iv. The terms of software and robotics operating system availability should include the ability of researchers to modify the source code and to share modifications with other colleagues. An applicant should take responsibility for creating the original and subsequent official versions of a piece of software.

v. To further enhance the potential impact of their software and robotics operating system, applicants may consider proposing a plan to manage and disseminate the improvements or customizations of their tools and resources by others. This proposal may include a plan to incorporate the enhancements into the official core software, may involve the creation of an infrastructure for plug-ins, or may describe some other solution.

The adequacy of the sharing plans described in the Data Management Plan for the software and robotics operating system will be considered by program staff when making recommendations about funding proposals. Any plans for dissemination of software and the robotics operating systems represent a commitment by the institution (and its subcontractors as applicable) to support and abide by the plan. 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.

II.D.2. Support for common robot platforms

Proposers may include requests for funding the acquisition of robot platforms required to conduct their research, implementation, development and educational activities. The use of a small number of common platforms for the research to be conducted by all the awardees will facilitate software development and robot operating system enhancement and its sharing. Budgets may allow for platforms costing up to $200,000 each. Supplemental funding may be requested for additional platforms should the nature of the research justify it. NSF will consider such supplemental requests only from its awardees.

Reviewers will be instructed to evaluate the proposed platform acquisitions and their utility to the proposed research and the NRI goals more broadly. The adequacy of the robotic platform acquisition justification will be considered when making recommendations about funding proposals. In making such considerations, prior to funding, program staff may negotiate modifications of the acquisition plans with the Principal Investigator before recommending funding of a proposal.

II.E. Principal Investigator Meetings

Awardees will convene at joint agency NRI PI meetings once or twice yearly for purposes of research update presentations, project demonstrations, program guidance and team competitions. Budgets should account for such trips to both the U.S. east coast region and the U.S. west coast region for each of the project principal investigators and other team members as appropriate from all collaborating institutions.

III. AWARD INFORMATION

All awards made under this solicitation by NSF, NASA and NIH 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 will be standard grants. A standard grant is an award instrument by which the Department 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.

The NRI expects to fund two project sizes under this solicitation:

  1. Small projects: One or more investigator projects are expected to range from approximately $100,000 to $250,000 per year in direct costs averaged over the duration of the project, with durations of one to five years. It is expected that 20 - 30 small awards will be made, most from partner agencies, and many of these awards will be shorter in duration than five years and on the small end of the range.
  2. Large projects: Multi-disciplinary group research projects are expected to range from $250,001 to $1,000,000 per year in direct costs averaged over the duration of the project, for three to five years, not to exceed $1,500,000 in total costs per year, on average. Aggregate total of all costs for the project (direct and indirect) over its proposed duration shall not exceed $5,000,000. It is expected that 5 - 10 large awards will be made, some on the small end of the range with most involving multi-institutional participation.

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. (See the NRI website for more information. www.nsf.gov/nri) Innovative methods of collaboration across geographic boundaries are encouraged.

NSF and NASA will consider funding both project sizes. NIH and USDA/NIFA both expect to fund only the small research projects in response to this funding solicitation. Proposals of $250,000 or more direct costs per year will not be accepted by NIH or USDA/NIFA. Applicants who wish to submit a proposal to NIH of more than $250,000 in direct costs for any grant should contact the Program staff of an NIH Institute/Center.

Upon conclusion of the review process, meritorious research proposals may be recommended for funding by one of NSF, NASA, NIH 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.B. for additional information on agency-specific processes.)

IV. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

Organization Limit:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:
  • Organizational eligibility is contained in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). Additional eligibility restrictions apply to USDA/NIFA grants (see section IV).

    The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg.

    Commercial enterprises with greater emphasis on development activities should consider the SBIR/STTR companion programs (http://www.nsf.gov/eng/iip/sbir/) and other agency SBIR/STTR websites.

PI Limit:

None Specified

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

None Specified

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI: 2

An investigator may participate as PI or co-PI in no more than two proposals submitted in response to this solicitation per year. This limit does not apply to other senior personnel.

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.

Proposals submitted in response to this solicitation may not duplicate or be substantially similar to other proposals concurrently under consideration by other NSF, NASA, NIH or USDA programs or study sections. 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 those proposals to be funded by USDA/NIFA, eligible entities for award 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 Grants.gov or via the NSF FastLane system.

  • 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 Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg. Paper copies of the GPG 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 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: (http://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. Chapter II, Section D.4 of the Grant Proposal Guide provides additional information on collaborative proposals.

Important Proposal Preparation Information: FastLane will check for required sections of the proposal, in accordance with Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) instructions described in Chapter II.C.2. The GPG requires submission of: Project Summary; Project Description; References Cited; Biographical Sketch(es); Budget; Budget Justification; Current and Pending Support; Facilities, Equipment & Other Resources; Data Management Plan; and Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan, if applicable. If a required section is missing, FastLane will not accept the proposal.

Please note that the proposal preparation instructions provided in this program solicitation may deviate from the GPG instructions. If the solicitation instructions do not require a GPG-required section to be included in the proposal, insert text or upload a document in that section of the proposal that states, "Not Applicable for this Program Solicitation." Doing so will enable FastLane to accept your proposal.

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

Proposal Titles: Proposal titles must begin with NRI, followed by a colon, then the project class followed by a colon and the title of the project. For example, if you are submitting a Small proposal, then your title would be NRI: Small: Title. If you submit a proposal as part of a set of collaborative proposals, the title of the proposal should begin with NRI followed by a colon, the project class followed by a colon, then "Collaborative Research" followed by a colon, and the title. For example, if you are submitting a collaborative set of proposals for a Large project, then the title of each proposal would be NRI: Large: Collaborative Research: Title. Proposals from institutions that have RUI (Research in Undergraduate Institutions) eligibility should have a proposal title that begins with NRI, followed by a colon, then the project class followed by a colon, then "RUI" followed by a colon, then "Collaborative Research" (if applicable) followed by a colon and then the title; for example, NRI: Small: RUI: Collaborative Research: Title.

Project Summary (1-page limit): At the top of this page enter the title of the NRI project, the name of the PI and the lead institution. Provide a summary description of the NRI project, including its transformative research and education goals, and the community (communities) that will be impacted by its results. In separate statements, provide a succinct summary of the intellectual merit and broader impacts of the proposed project. Those proposals that are targeting a specific agency sponsorship should indicate so in the last line of their 1-page Project Summary, e.g., "Requested funding agency:" followed by that agency's abbreviated name, "NSF", "NASA", "NIH", 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.

Full proposals that do not address the intellectual merit and broader impacts of the proposed project in separate statements will be returned without review.

Project Description: 15 page limit-for Small proposals and Large proposals. The Coordination Plan must be submitted as a Supplementary Document for this solicitation, see below.

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

Coordination Plan. Highly collaborative and multi-disciplinary small proposals may include a Coordination Plan. Large Group proposals must include a Coordination Plan. The Coordination Plan must be submitted as a Supplementary Document and cannot exceed two pages. Large Group Proposals that do not include a properly-labeled and complete Coordination Plan will be returned without review. The Coordination Plan must be labeled "Coordination Plan" and 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 across institutions and disciplines; 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.), and 4) specific references to the budget line items that support these coordination mechanisms.

A mechanism to allow subsequent small proposals to link with existing large projects can be specified in the Coordination Plan of large proposals. See the NRI website for more information (www.nsf.gov/nri).

Documentation of collaborative arrangements of significance to the proposal through letters of commitment. 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. Letters of commitment that promise access to facilities or resources (such as data sets or databases) should also be provided. General letters of support are not allowed by the GPG.

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.

Vertebrate Animals. Proposals involving vertebrate animals should include a supplementary document of no more than two pages in length that addresses the following points:

  1. Detailed description of the proposed use of the animals, including species, strains, ages, sex, and number to be used;
  2. Justification for the use of animals, choice of species, and numbers to be used;
  3. Information on the veterinary care of the animals;
  4. Description of procedures for minimizing discomfort, distress, pain, and injury; and
  5. Method of euthanasia and the reasons for its selection.

Data Management Plan. All proposals must include a supplementary document no more than two pages in length describing plans for data management and sharing of the products of research, which may include (see sections II.D and VI.A):

  1. The types of data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, and other materials to be produced in the course of the project;
  2. The standards to be used for data and metadata format and content (where existing standards are absent or deemed inadequate, this should be documented along with any proposed solutions or remedies);
  3. Policies for access and sharing including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements;
  4. A dissemination plan for using and sharing software and the robotics operating system, with appropriate timelines, must be included.
  5. Sustainability plan beyond the term of the award.

List of Project Personnel. Include a list of the PI, co-PIs and all other senior personnel, consultants, subcontractors and collaborators (paid and unpaid). List name, affiliation, and role in a concise list. It is not necessary to include students or post-docs not listed as co-PIs.

NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award. Applicants from institutions that have a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) funded by the NIH National Center of Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) may wish to identify the CTSA as a resource for conducting the proposed research. A letter of agreement from the CTSA program director or Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) should be included with the application.

Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan (if applicable) See Chapter II.C.2.j (http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappguide/nsf11001/gpg_2.jsp#IIC2j) of the GPG for further information about the implementation of this requirement.

Proposals that do not comply with these requirements will be returned without review.

B. Budgetary Information

Cost Sharing: Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited

Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations:

For NSF, Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) Guidelines apply.

For NIH, indirect costs on foreign subawards/subcontracts will be limited to eight (8) percent.

For awards made by USDA/NIFA: Section 7132 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act amended section 1462 of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 (7 U.S.C. 3310), increasing the limit on recovery of indirect costs from 20 percent to 22 percent of total Federal funds provided under the award. Therefore, the recovery of indirect costs on awards made by NIFA under this program area may not exceed the lesser of the institution's official negotiated indirect cost rate or the equivalent of 22 percent of total Federal funds awarded.

Other Budgetary Limitations:

Budgets should include travel funds to attend two annual NRI Principal Investigators' meetings, one to the U.S. east coast region and one to the U.S. west coast region for the project principal investigators and other team members as appropriate from all collaborating institutions each year.

C. Due Dates

  • Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

         December 11, 2012

    Small Proposals

         January 23, 2013

         January 23, Annually Thereafter

    Large Proposals

         November 14, 2013

         November 14, Annually Thereafter

    Small Proposals

D. FastLane/Grants.gov Requirements

  • For Proposals Submitted Via FastLane:

    Detailed technical instructions regarding the technical aspects of preparation and submission via FastLane are available at: https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a1/newstan.htm. For FastLane user support, call the FastLane Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 or e-mail fastlane@nsf.gov. The FastLane Help Desk answers general technical questions related to the use of the FastLane system. 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.

    Submission of Electronically Signed Cover Sheets. The Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must electronically sign the proposal Cover Sheet to submit the required proposal certifications (see Chapter II, Section C of the Grant Proposal Guide for a listing of the certifications). The AOR must provide the required electronic certifications within five working days following the electronic submission of the proposal. Further instructions regarding this process are available on the FastLane Website at: https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/fastlane.jsp.

  • 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: http://www07.grants.gov/applicants/app_help_reso.jsp. In addition, the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide provides additional technical guidance regarding 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.

VI. NSF PROPOSAL PROCESSING AND REVIEW PROCEDURES

Proposals received by NSF are assigned to the appropriate NSF program where they will be reviewed if they meet NSF proposal preparation requirements. 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 who are experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. Program Officers and 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 the funding requested. The reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with the 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.

A. NSF Merit Review Criteria

All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board (NSB)-approved merit review criteria: intellectual merit and the broader impacts of the proposed effort. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

The two NSB-approved merit review criteria are listed below. The criteria include considerations that help define them. These considerations are suggestions and not all will apply to any given proposal. While proposers must address both merit review criteria, reviewers will be asked to address only those considerations that are relevant to the proposal being considered and for which the reviewer is qualified to make judgments.

What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?
How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of the prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources?

What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?
How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?

Examples illustrating activities likely to demonstrate broader impacts are available electronically on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/gpg/broaderimpacts.pdf.

Mentoring activities provided to postdoctoral researchers supported on the project, as described in a one-page supplementary document, will be evaluated under the Broader Impacts criterion.

Additional Solicitation Specific Review Criteria

In general, group and multi-institutional proposals requiring significant resources to generate artifacts are expected to show their potential for novel functionalities and features, identifiable user clienteles, interoperability, scaling, extensibility, and durability, and a detailed description of how these advancements may be made available for commercial support and exploitation. These proposals should, as appropriate include active participation from client groups, technology vendors, and potential commercial enterprises or application beneficiaries. The proposals will also be evaluated based on:

  • Infrastructure planning and software sharing

The dissemination plan for using and sharing software and the robotics operating system, with appropriate timelines, will be assessed for its potential effectiveness and impact on other projects and the NRI overall. Reviewers will also be instructed to evaluate the proposed platform acquisitions and their utility to the proposed research and the NRI goals more broadly. Both of these are described in section II.D.

  • Survivability

Credibility of the plan for continuing the development and transferring the artifacts and know-how after the expiration of research funding.

  • Impact

Potential for general impact on the development of techniques, environments or paradigms that will advance the utilization of co-robots.

  • Collaboration and Management

The extent to which the group is integrated, has a common focus and the quality of management and collaboration plans.

  • Education and Training

The degree to which research and education are integrated and activities involve participation and training of students. Reviewers will assess the potential for involvement of motivated populations of young roboticists in accomplishing the research goals.

Subsequent to the uniform panel reviews, 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 criteria to highlight the specific objectives of their programs and activities, although all of the following are considered by each of the supporting agencies when applicable.

Standard NIH Review Criteria

The mission of the NIH is to support science in pursuit of knowledge about the biology and behavior of living systems and to apply that knowledge to extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability. While many of the NIH and NSF review criteria are based on the same standards of scientific evaluation, some scoring mechanisms and programmatic emphases vary. For example, all proposals under consideration by NIH will be scored by their respective review panels using the NIH 1-9 scoring system, which does not include consideration of broader impacts. Additionally, proposers should pay particular attention to NIH clinical evaluation standards represented by criteria for human and animal subjects as well as biohazards. In general, NIH funding priorities will be directed toward proposals that best address the following criteria that are used by NIH:

Overall Impact - Reviewers will provide an overall impact/priority score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved, in consideration of the following review criteria and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed). An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact.

Significance - Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved? How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?

Investigator(s) - Are the PD(s)/PI(s), collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project? If Early Stage Investigators or New Investigators, or in the early stages of independent careers, do they have appropriate experience and training? If established, have they demonstrated an ongoing record of accomplishments that have advanced their field(s)? If the project is collaborative or multi-PD/PI, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise; are their leadership approach, governance and organizational structure appropriate for the project?

Innovation - Does the application challenge and seek to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions? Are the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense? Is a refinement, improvement, or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions proposed?

Approach - Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented? If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed?

If the project involves clinical research, are the plans for 1) protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion of minorities and members of both sexes/genders, as well as the inclusion of children, justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?

Environment - Will the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Are the institutional support, equipment and other physical resources available to the investigators adequate for the project proposed? Will the project benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, subject populations, or collaborative arrangements?

Where applicable, the following items will also be considered:

Protections for Human Subjects. For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee 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 review 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 six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption, 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and 3) sources of materials.

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children. When the proposed project involves clinical research, the committee will evaluate the proposed plans for inclusion of minorities and members of both genders, as well as the inclusion of children.

Vertebrate Animals. The committee 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.

Biohazards. Reviewers will assess whether materials or procedures proposed are potentially hazardous to research personnel and/or the environment, and if needed, determine whether adequate protection is proposed.

Budget. The reasonableness of the proposed budget and the requested period of support in relation to the proposed research will be assessed.

Additional USDA Review Criteria

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

Budget. The reasonableness of the proposed budget and the requested period of support in relation to the proposed research will be assessed.

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

B. Review and Selection Process

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 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 proposals that are targeting a specific agency sponsorship should indicate so in the last line of their 1-page Project Summary, e.g., "Requested funding agency:" followed by that agency's abbreviated name, "NSF", "NASA", "NIH", 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. 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.

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 is striving to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. The time interval begins on the deadline or target date, or receipt date, whichever is later. The interval ends when the Division Director accepts the Program Officer's recommendation.

Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers, 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.

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 a 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.

NASA Process: For those proposals that are selected for funding consideration by NASA, an NSF official will transfer the proposals and reviews directly to NASA. Applicants will not be allowed to increase the proposed budget or change the scientific content of the proposal that has been transferred to NASA for funding consideration. These applications, along with the summary statements generated based on the review, will be used to make the funding recommendations.

NIH Process: For those proposals that are selected for potential funding by participating NIH Institutes or Centers, the PI will be required to resubmit the proposal in an NIH-approved format directly to the Center for Scientific Review (http://www.csr.nih.gov/) of the NIH. PIs invited to resubmit to NIH will receive further information on resubmission procedures from NIH. An applicant will not be allowed to increase the proposed budget or change the scientific content of the proposal in the resubmission to the NIH as an NIH application. Indirect costs on any foreign subawards/subcontracts will be limited to eight (8) percent. These NIH applications will be entered into the NIH IMPAC II system. The results of the review will be presented to the involved Institutes' or Centers' National Advisory Councils for the second level of review. Subsequent to the Council reviews, NIH Institutes and Centers will make their funding determinations and selected awards will be made. Subsequent grant administration procedures for NIH awardees, including those related to New and Early Stage Investigators (http://funding.niaid.nih.gov/researchfunding/grant/pages/aag.aspx), will be in accordance with the policies of NIH. Applications selected for NIH funding will use the NIH funding mechanisms.

Proposals that are funded by the NIH are expected to be renewed as competing continuing applications. Principal Investigators should contact their NIH Program Officer for additional information. For informational purposes, NIH Principal Investigators may wish to consult the NIAID web site, "All About Grants," which provides excellent generic information about all aspects of NIH grantsmanship, including competitive renewals (http://funding.niaid.nih.gov/researchfunding/grant/pages/aag.aspx).

USDA 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.

Additional Review Details

Reviewers will be asked to formulate a recommendation to either support or decline each proposal. The Program Officer assigned to manage the proposal's review will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation.

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 is striving to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. The time interval begins on the deadline or target date, or receipt date, whichever is later. The interval ends when the Division Director accepts the Program Officer's recommendation.

A summary rating and accompanying narrative will be completed and submitted by each reviewer. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers, 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.

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 a 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.

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 letter, 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 letter; (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 letter. 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 http://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 http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=aag.

USDA Award Administration and Conditions:
Within the limit of funds available for such purpose, the awarding official of NIFA shall make grants to those responsible, eligible applicants whose proposals are judged most meritorious under the procedures set forth in this solicitation. The date specified by the awarding official of NIFA 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. It should be noted that 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 shall be expended solely for the purpose for which the funds are granted in accordance with the approved proposal and budget, the regulations, the terms and conditions of the award, the applicable Federal cost principles, and the Department's assistance regulations (parts 3015 and 3019 of 7 CFR).

The award document will provide pertinent instructions and information including, at a minimum, the following:

(1) Legal name and address of performing organization or institution to whom the Director has issued an award under the terms of this solicitation;

(2) Title of project;

(3) Name(s) and institution(s) of PDs chosen to direct and control approved activities;

(4) Identifying award number assigned by the Department;

(5) Project period, specifying the amount of time the Department intends to support the project without requiring recompetition for funds;

(6) Total amount of Departmental financial assistance approved by the Director during the project period;

(7) Legal authority(ies) under which the award is issued;

(8) Appropriate Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number;

(9) Applicable award terms and conditions (see http://www.nifa.usda.govbusiness/awards/awardterms.html to view NIFA award terms and conditions);

(10) Approved budget plan for categorizing allocable project funds to accomplish the stated purpose of the award; and

(11) Other information or provisions deemed necessary by NIFA to carry out its respective awarding activities or to accomplish the purpose of a particular award.

NIH and NASA:
Contact the cognizant organization program officer for additional information.

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 NSF/NASA/NIH/USDA National Robotics Initiative."

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 at least 90 days before the end of the current budget period. (Some programs or awards require more frequent project reports). Within 90 days after 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 that PI. 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 FastLane, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports. Such reports provide information on activities and findings, project participants (individual and organizational), publications, and other specific products and contributions. PIs will not be required to re-enter information previously provided, either with a proposal or in earlier updates using the electronic system. Submission of the report via FastLane constitutes certification by the PI that the contents of the report are accurate and complete. The project outcomes report 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.

Additional data may be required for NSF sponsored Cooperative Agreements.

Proposals which are initially funded at a level exceeding $1,000,000 per year for three or more years will be evaluated based on the proposed work plan by teams of experts periodically through the term of the project to determine performance levels. Funding for the balance of the project term may be revised based on this evaluation. All publications, reports, data and other output from all awards must be prepared in digital format and meet general requirements for storage, indexing, searching and retrieval.

USDA:

Grantees are to submit initial project information and annual summary reports to NIFA's electronic, Web-based inventory system that facilitates both grantee submissions of project outcomes and public access to information on Federally-funded projects. The details of these reporting requirements are included in the award terms and conditions.

Any additional reporting requirements will be identified in the terms and conditions of the award (see #9 under NIFA award terms and conditions).

For informational purposes, the "Federal Financial Report," Form SF-425, consolidates into a single report the former Financial Status Report (SF-269 and SF-269A) and the Federal Cash Transactions Report (SF-272 and SF-272A). The NIFA Agency-specific Terms and Conditions include the requirement that Form SF-425 is due on a annual basis no later than 90 days following the award's anniversary date (i.e., one year following the month and day of which the project period begins and each year thereafter up until a final report is required). A final "Federal Financial Report," Form SF-425, is due 90 days after the expiration date of this award.

Other USDA Requirements: Several Federal statutes and regulations apply to USDA/NIFA grant applications considered for review and to project grants awarded under this program. These include, but are not limited to:

2 CFR Part 215 - Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements With Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations (OMB Circular A-110).

2 CFR Part 220 - Cost Principles for Educational Institutions (OMB Circular A-21).

2 CFR Part 230 - Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations (OMB Circular A-122).

7 CFR Part 1, subpart A-USDA implementation of the Freedom of Information Act.

7 CFR Part 3-USDA implementation of OMB Circular No. A-129 regarding debt collection.

7 CFR Part 15, subpart A-USDA implementation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

7 CFR Part 331 and 9 CFR Part 121-USDA implementation of the Agricultural Bioterrorism Protection Act of 2002.

7 CFR Part 3015-USDA Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations, implementing OMB directives (i.e., OMB Circular Nos. A-21 and A-122, now codified at 2 CFR Parts 220 and 230) and incorporating provisions of 31 U.S.C. 6301-6308 (formerly the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act of 1977, Pub. L. No. 95-224), as well as general policy requirements applicable to recipients of Departmental financial assistance.

7 CFR Part 3017-USDA implementation of Governmentwide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) and 7 CFR Part 3021-Governmentwide Requirements for Drug Free Workplace (Grants).

7 CFR Part 3018-USDA implementation of Restrictions on Lobbying. Imposes prohibitions and requirements for disclosure and certification related to lobbying on recipients of Federal contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, and loans.

7 CFR Part 3019-USDA implementation of OMB Circular A-110, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Other Agreements With Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Nonprofit Organizations.

7 CFR Part 3052-USDA implementation of OMB Circular No. A-133, Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non profit Organizations.

7 CFR Part 3407-NIFA procedures to implement the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended.

7 CFR Part 3430 - NIFA Competitive and Noncompetitive Nonformula Grant Programs-General Grant Administrative Provisions.

29 U.S.C. 794 (section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973) and 7 CFR Part 15b (USDA implementation of statute) -prohibiting discrimination based upon physical or mental handicap in Federally assisted programs.

35 U.S.C. 200 et seq. -Bayh Dole Act, controlling allocation of rights to inventions made by employees of small business firms and domestic nonprofit organizations, including universities, in Federally assisted programs (implementing regulations are contained in 37 CFR Part 401).

Delegation of Fiscal Responsibility: Unless the terms and conditions of the grant state otherwise, the grantee may not, in whole or in part, delegate or transfer to another person, institution, or organization the responsibility for use or expenditure of grant funds.

Changes in Project Plans

a. 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.

b. 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.

c. 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.

d. 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.

e. 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.

f. 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.

NIH and NASA:

Contact the cognizant organization program officer for additional information.

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:

  • Richard Voyles, CISE/IIS, telephone: (703) 292-8930, email: rvoyles@nsf.gov

  • George T. Chiu, ENG/CMMI, telephone: (703) 292-5365, email: gchiu@nsf.gov

  • Ted A. Conway, ENG/CBET, telephone: (703) 292-7091, email: tconway@nsf.gov

  • Darryl N. Williams, EHR/DRL, telephone: (703) 292-7906, email: dnwillia@nsf.gov

  • Satyandra K. Gupta, CISE/IIS, 1125, telephone: (703) 292-8930, email: skgupta@nsf.gov

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

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

  • Mitra Basu, CISE/CCF, telephone: (703) 292-8910, email: mbasu@nsf.gov

For questions related to the use of FastLane, contact:

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 Institutes of Health

  • Louis Quatrano, Ph. D.
    Program Director, BSRE, NCMRR
    Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
    National Institutes of Health
    6100 Executive Blvd, Rm 2A03, MSC 7510, Bethesda, MD 20892-7510
    Rockville, MD 20852 (for express/courier service)

    Electronic Mail: quatranol@mail.nih.gov
    Office: 301-402-4221
    Fax: 301-402-0832

United States Department of Agriculture

  • Daniel Schmoldt, Ph.D.
    National Institute of Food and Agriculture
    Waterfront Centre, Ste. 3440
    800 9th Street SW
    Washington DC 20024

    Electronic mail: dschmoldt@nifa.usda.gov
    Telephone: 202-720-4807

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  • Dr. Robert O. Ambrose
    2101 NASA Parkway
    Mail Code ER1
    NASA Johnson Space Center

    Electronic mail: robert.o.ambrose@nasa.gov
    Telephone: 281-244-5561

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, National Science Foundation Update is a free e-mail subscription service 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 Regional Grants Conferences. Subscribers are informed through e-mail when new publications are issued that match their identified interests. Users can subscribe to this service by clicking the "Get NSF Updates by Email" link on the NSF web site.

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

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

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

NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
http://nih.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 will be held beginning in Fall 2012 prior to the first 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 provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities to work on NSF-supported projects. See Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II, Section D.2 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 http://www.nsf.gov

  • Location:

4201 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA 22230

  • 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 Systems of Records, NSF-50, "Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004), and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004). 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
Division of Administrative Services
National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA 22230

X. APPENDIX

Legislative Authority:

The USDA authority for this RFA 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. 450i(b)) 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.



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