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Electronic Hardware, Robotics and Wireless Technologies (EW)


Sensors (SE)

Recent technological advancements in materials science and bioengineered systems have made inexpensive, powerful, and ubiquitous sensing a reality. Examples range from truly smart airframes and self-evaluating buildings and infrastructure for natural hazard mitigation to large-scale weather forecasting, self-organizing energy systems, and smart devices that self-assemble into networks leading to the first electronic nervous system that connects the Internet back to the physical world. New detection technologies that overcome barriers of time, scale, materials, and environment, and emphasize self-calibration, selectivity, and sensitivity are solicited. With the convergence of MEMS, wireless, wearables, and the Internet of Things, the sales of sensors in the U.S. alone are expected to climb to nearly $15 billion in 2016.

Wireless Technologies (WT)

Wireless has become the platform for many applications with direct impact on virtually every aspect of life, evolving well beyond mobile phones and PDAs to other devices, services, channels, and content. Microwave circuits afford wider frequency spectrum and very short antennae. With GaAs and SiGe, entire microwave transceivers can be inexpensively placed on a single chip. Modulation methods like spread-spectrum and orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing bring greater spectral efficiency and more bits/Hz of bandwidth, and lead to less susceptibility to noise, interference, and multi-path distortion. On-chip DSPs allow new signal-processing functions. RFID chips are providing improvements in warehousing, materials handling, and shipping operations, replacing bar-code labels in many areas.

WT1. Systems and Devices

Proposals that involve next generation wireless communication technologies requiring systems with high data rates, low cost, and that support a wide variety of applications and services, while maintaining full mobility, minimum latency, and long battery life are sought. Innovations that improve spectral efficiency on an instantaneous basis, such as mitigation of unwanted emissions, improvements in filter technology, interference cancellation, etc., and improvements on a system-wide basis, such as dynamic spectrum access, frequency re-use, and innovative millimeter wave and THz frequency devices and systems. Reconfigurable wireless platforms, such as cognitive radio, software-defined radio, novel hardware/software co-design, adaptive antennas, etc., to dynamically implement incentive mechanisms and spectrum policy, facilitate the coexistence of multiple dynamic spectrum access networks, and optimize network performance. Innovative solutions for systems may include medical devices, surveillance, and remote sensing. New technology that can result in improvements in spectrum efficiency and access will require new test and measurement solutions and standards and regulatory validation. In addition, measurements and metrics to establish existing and future levels of spectrum occupancy and efficiency will be required. New and novel measurement-based spectrum management techniques, including agent-based systems, policy-based spectrum management, and local and scalable spectrum management are welcome. Novel network radio architecture facilitating the interplay between network layers and enabling more network functionalities, e.g., network topology awareness, network coding, cross-layer optimization, and multiple-input-multipleoutput (MIMO) are also welcome.

WT2. Spectrum Usage

Appropriate for this subtopic are spectral accounting techniques enabling equitable sharing; the development and enhancement of RFI detection and suppression techniques for use in RFI cancellation and filtering, matched filtering, and polarization-based algorithms and multiple antenna algorithms so that more spectrum can be shared with active services. Proposal involving advanced spectrum sensing techniques to quickly and accurately identify transmission opportunities over a very wide spectrum pool that may host a large number of different wireless services are sought. Security and privacy solutions in the context of spectrum sharing are also appropriate, in addition to mechanisms that can enforce the proper operation of dynamic spectrum access and are robust against malicious attacks. Coexistence with legacy systems, such as backwards and forward interoperability and compatibility will be important. A major challenge of moving to a new and more efficient spectrum-use model will be a lengthy and complex transition period that will allow for the co-existence of novel systems and regulations with the multitude of existing legacy systems and regulations. Special-purpose wireless systems may be difficult to accommodate within bold new spectrum-use models because of fundamental limitations on frequency agility due to basic operational requirements, extreme sensitivity to interference, or potentially drastic consequences due to failure of a radio frequency (RF) link. Energy-efficient and robust spectrum sensing and allocation mechanisms and protocol support will be needed.


Energy and Power Management (EP)

In the power electronics realm, as CMOS chips go to finer lithography with each new generation, their multiplying transistors require lower voltages and higher currents. These trends have driven up power demands on printed circuit boards and placed constant pressure on power-supply and power-system developers to increase the efficiency and power or current density. At the same time, the trends toward lower voltages and higher currents have encouraged migration from centralized to distributed and portable power architectures.

EP1. Electronic Devices, Boards and Interfaces

Newer chips with lower supply-voltage requirements has greatly complicated power-system and powersupply design. Innovations in the areas of low-power device design and manufacturing as well as printed circuit and other boards that will operate at lower power and longer lifetimes are welcome.

EP2. Sustainable Energy Harvesting, Storage and Management - Device and System Level

Proposals are solicited in the areas of electronic systems for portable energy sources for mobile technologies and off-grid type applications, including new energy sources. Proposals in the areas of power management systems for energy scavenging/harvesting and compact energy conversion systems, conversion from renewable resources, interface devices between batteries and super-capacitors as well as smart power demand-response management systems are welcome. Proposals with ideas on nature-inspired processes for sustainable energy solutions and carbon storage, reducing the carbon and resource intensity of hydrocarbon extraction, energy conversion, and its uses are sought. Innovative projects may include new critical devices, components, and systems for energy harvesting and conversion from renewable resources (excluding solar technologies). Refer to PH topic for solar technologies.

EP3. Smart Grids and Infrastructure

Proposals that address innovations in new technologies that support smart infrastructures (such as materials, sensors, devices, and control systems) to ensure efficient and sustainable energy transmission, distribution, monitoring, and management are sought.

EP4. Power Management

Innovations in the areas of (but not limited to) novel voltage conversion, micro-inverters and DC-DC voltage converters, and compact hi-voltage, hi-power systems, and wireless transmission of electricity are welcome. Proposals covering new energy sources for portable and mobile devices, smart power demand-response management systems (e.g. smart grids, buildings, and circuits), inverters, motors, compact nuclear fusion reactors, and generators for higher efficiency, smaller size and power factor corrections are encouraged.



Robotics and Human Assistive Technologies (RH)

Considerable progress will be made if robots possessed the high intelligence needed to cope with uncertainty, learn from experience, and work as a team. Robot designers are borrowing features from insect nervous systems, and engineers and computer scientists collaborate with biologists, neuroscientists, and psychologists to exploit new knowledge in the study of the brain and behavior. Some robots will help people do what they can't or would rather not do. Other robots will tackle complex projects by working as teams. Robots will help protect critical infrastructure and monitor the environment as mobile, intelligent sensors. High-performance processors, hardware to provide situational awareness, and improved artificial intelligence (AI) are enabling researchers to create lifelike robots with an entire gamut of facial expressions.

RH1. Learning, Intelligence and Motion

Proposals addressing robot intelligence and experiential learning, particularly those in the areas of highperformance processors/hardware to provide situational awareness, and improved artificial intelligence, are welcome. Innovations in voice, obstacle and image recognition, emotional response, eye-hand coordination, deep learning, neuromorphic computing, brain operating systems, human-robot interaction, mechanized intelligent analysis to promote self-knowledge, and face recognition technology are encouraged. Proposals describing projects that borrow features from other animal nervous systems and include biologists, neuroscientists, and/or psychologists in their team in order to exploit new knowledge in the study of the brain and behavior are encouraged.

RH2. Robotic Applications

Proposals involving robotics and intelligent machines having complex, human-like behavior for applications such as the protection of critical infrastructure or the monitoring of the environment while using mobile technologies and sensors networks are sought. Innovations in areas such as improved time imaging, visualization, dexterity and manipulation, anthropomorphic robots, naturally inspired, biomimetic, neuromechanical robotics, haptic, real-time and bio-inspired feedback are also welcome. Other applications include (but are not limited to) precision agriculture, automated sewing of clothes and shoes or commercial drones, or teaching robots how to compensate for any damage to themselves so that, guided by an understanding of their physical selves, robots can adapt to all manner of injuries.

RH3. Robotics in Agile Manufacturing

Proposals that address next-generation automation, the flexible and rapid reconfiguration of assembly lines allowing mass customization, the use of advanced control, scheduling, modularization, and decentralization with agile, mobile robotic systems that can enable the cost-effective manufacture of small lot-size products are sought.

RH4. Co-Robots

Innovations in the development of co-robots, robots that work symbiotically (beside, in direct support, or cooperatively) with people (social robotics), to extend or augment human capacities are welcome. Proposals describing 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; for sensors and perception, actuators and control, intelligence, machine learning techniques, architectures, systems, human/robot interfaces, and other developments that either realize or help to realize co-robots in manufacturing, service, construction, exploration, and assistive applications are encouraged.

RH5. Control and Architecture

Proposals involving novel and advanced approaches to sensing, perception, and actuation in embedded and highly distributed systems; intelligent control architecture for robotic systems; the development of humanrobot interfaces; communication and task sharing between humans and machines, and among machines; and self-diagnosing, self-repairing robots, are sought.

RH6. Human Assistive Technologies and Bio-Robotics

Proposals to support the physical and educational needs of individuals with disabilities - e.g. vision, hearing, cognitive, motor related - are sought. Robotic applications in healthcare (tele-robotics, robotic prosthesis, robot-assisted rehab, miniature robotics, high-throughput technologies - imaging, screening of drugs, surgical procedures) are appropriate. Medical devices that provide new capabilities to doctors including surgery; robotic exoskeletons to enhance human strength; personal robots with an emphasis on human-centered end use and interaction, increased autonomy; robots of augmentation are welcome. Proposals that address concepts for protecting human hands (in various extreme environmental conditions), and haptic, real-time and bio-inspired feedback concepts and mechanisms are also sought.


Micro-electronics Packaging, Thermal Management & Systems Integration (MT)

Proposals are solicited on more efficient means of integrating semiconductor components and devices into systems. The growth in chip density, coupled with the demand for high performance, small size, light weight, and affordable reliability has placed enormous pressure on interconnect technology and packaging at all levels. Innovations include (but not limited to) improved techniques for interconnect and packaging at the board level, packaging approaches for the board components, the passive components, techniques for board assembly, and applications of techniques to packaging and systems integration for optoelectronics and wireless systems.


Agency Contact(s)

General inquiries regarding this topic should be made to: Muralidharan S. Nair, (703) 292-7059,

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