Notice of Updates to the National Robotics Initiative (NRI)

Notice Number: NOT-EB-13-005

Key Dates
Release Date: October 29, 2013

Related Announcements

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
National Science Foundation (NSF)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)


This Notice updates and supersedes the previous Guide Notice, NOT-EB-12-006, published in the NIH Guide, September 21, 2012.

The NIH is collaborating on a multi-agency funding opportunity, the National Robotics Initiative (NRI) (, whose goal 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 a human are supported by multiple agencies of the federal government including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This initiative will facilitate the development of the next generation of robotics, particularly co-robotics, and encourage existing and new communities to focus on innovative application areas. Collaboration between academic, industry, non-profit and other organizations is strongly encouraged to establish better linkages between fundamental science and technology development and use.

The NIH encourages robotics research and technology development to enhance health, lengthen life and reduce illness and disability. Specifically, the participating NIH institutes are interested in targeting this solicitation tosupport the development of assistive robotic technology to achieve functional independence in humans; improve quality of life; assist with behavioral therapy and personalized care; and promote wellness/health. The most significant challenges will be in addressing safety issues, especially for applications to be used in home-based and long-term care settings where integration of complex systems will be required. Additionally, these assistive robots need to quickly adapt to changes of the user and the environment. Human assistive devices should be designed to assist healthcare providers and as well as the individuals needing care. Development of robotic applications is important to NIH because of their 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. Affordable and accessible robotic technology can facilitate wellness and personalized healthcare. 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, assistive robotics will enable people to engage in all aspects of human life with endurance and dignity.

Examples of assistive robotic technology development include but are not limited to:
- Homecare and long-term personalized care robots
- Robotic wellness/health promotion and maintenance
- Robotic behavioral therapy
- Mobility, manipulation, visual, communication and cognitive aids
- Assistive robotics to eliminate health disparities across populations

When developing appropriate assistive co-robotic technologies, applicants should consider the following basic characteristics: effectiveness, affordability, cultural acceptability, and accessibility to those who need them. Applicants should describe how these technologies will address the healthcare needs of the end user (healthy individuals, persons with disability, and or health disparity populations).

The robotic applications promoted in this solicitation are for non-operative settings. The NIH is still interested in supporting robotics for surgical health interventions, however, not in response this solicitation. Applicants interested in this area should send inquiries to the NIH program contacts listed below.

Applicants are encouraged to utilize the resources provided by NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Program for conducting proposed research.

Award Information

Award sizes for NIH funded research projects are expected to range from approximately $100,000 to $250,000 per year in direct costs, with durations of one to five years. No award will exceed $250,000 per year in direct costs. Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size and duration are subject to the availability of funds. Determination of awards is based on three criteria: 1) availability of funds, 2) program priorities, and 3) scientific merit. Subsequent grant administration procedures will be in accordance with the policies of the awarding Institute.

Application Preparation and Submission Instructions

Applications submitted in response to this program announcement/solicitation should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the general guidelines contained in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). Applications must be submitted to the NSF, not to the NIH. The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF Web Site at:
Applicants are reminded to identify the NSF program announcement number in the program announcement block on the NSF Cover Sheet for Proposal to the National Science Foundation. Compliance with this announcement is critical to determining the relevant application processing guidelines. Failure to submit this information may delay processing.

Budgetary Information

Cost sharing is not required in applications submitted to this funding opportunity. Budgets should include travel funds for the PD/PI and team members to attend an annual NRI Principal Investigators' meeting.

NIH Process

A goal for this activity is to involve multiple agencies using one application and one review. To meet NIH requirements, for those applications that are identified for potential funding by participating NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs), the applicant organization will be required to submit an R01 application in an NIH-approved format directly to the Center for Scientific Review ( of the NIH. PDs/PIs invited to submit to NIH will receive further information on submission procedures from the NIH. The NIH application will not be allowed to increase the proposed budget or change the scientific content of the application in the converted submission to the NIH. The summary statement will be presented to the involved IC's National Advisory Council for the second level of review. Subsequent to the Council review, NIH ICs will make their funding determinations and selected awards will be made. Grant administration procedures for NIH awardees, including those related to New and Early Stage Investigators ( will be in accordance with the policies of NIH.

Please note that applications will be submitted for review to the NSF on January 21, 2014. Notification of applications selected for potential funding by the participating NIH ICs will be received by the beginning of April 2014. The converted submission to NIH will be due on April 14, 2014, which will be an extremely short conversion time. The applicant organization will want to work closely with their Sponsored Programs Office to assure a timely submission during this narrow submission window. The earliest project start date will be July 1, 2014.


Written and telephone inquiries are encouraged. NIH Program contacts are listed below. Please see the NSF program announcement for names and contact information for each of the participating NSF Directorates at

Louis Quatrano, Ph. D.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Phone: 301-402-4221

Grace C.Y. Peng, Ph.D.,
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Phone: 301-451-4778

Tom Greenwell, Ph.D.
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Phone: 301-451-2020

Lyndon Joseph, Ph.D
National Institute on Aging, NIH, DHHS (NIA)
Phone: 301-496-6926

Roger L. Miller, Ph.D.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Phone: 301-402-3458

Daofen Chen, Ph.D.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Phone: 301-496-9964

Paul A. Cotton, PhD, RD, Program Director
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
Phone: 301-402-6423