NIOSH and the National Science Foundation’s Funding for Workplace Robots

Funding will soon be available to further research collaborative robots (co-robots) in the workplace. The deadline to apply is February 26, 2020.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently announced its partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the US Department of Agriculture to make funding available for collaborative robotics studies.

The Program Announcement from Dec. 2, 2019 called for proposal applications for the National Robotics Initiative 2.0 (NRI 2.0). The program reportedly expands on the original robotics initiative program to better support research of co-robots—robots whose main purpose is to work with other people or other robots to accomplish a goal.

NIOSH sees potential in co-robots specifically to help reduce workplace risk exposures. Further research on co-robots will hopefully identify potential risks of co-robots to workers and evaluate various control strategies to protect workers.

Project research proposals should address industry sectors likely to deploy and benefit from co-robots such as agriculture, construction, healthcare, and mining. Proposals should consider modeling and simulation to evaluate potential hazards to humans in a virtual environment.

NIOSH will consider projects with budgets ranging from $85,000 to $250,000 per year for up to three years.

Those interested in applying for funding can read more about the opportunity on the NSF website. The deadline to apply is February 26, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. in the submitter’s local time zone. There are a number of platforms to which applicants can submit: FastLane, Research.gov, or Grants.gov.

This program and funding is through NIOSH’s Center for Occupational Robotics Research which works to guide the development and use of occupational robots that enhance workers’ safety, health, and well-being. The Center researches a number of robotic topics such as robotic cells and cages away from human workers, emerging robotic technologies, wearable robotics or powered exoskeletons, remotely controlled or autonomous vehicles and drones, and future robots using advanced artificial intelligence.

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