NIOSH partners with the National Science Foundation for a second year to fund workplace robotics research

February 25, 2021
NIOSH Update:

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has partnered with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to make funding available to study the integration of robotics technologies in the workplace.

The NSF published a Program Solicitationexternal icon calling for proposals for the National Robotics Initiative 3.0: Innovations in Integration of Robotics (NRI-3.0). Building upon previous NRI programs, the NRI-3.0 program supports fundamental research in the U.S. that promotes integration of robots to the benefit of humans including human safety and human independence.

Through this initiative NIOSH seeks to fund research on integration of robotics technologies for reducing workplace risk exposures, research to identify potential physical risks and sociotechnical challenges of robotics technologies to workers, and research to evaluate different risk control strategies. Research projects should address industry sectors likely to deploy and benefit from robots such as agriculture, construction, healthcare, and mining and 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 view the funding opportunity on the NSF websiteexternal iconThe deadline to apply is May 3, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. in the submitter’s local time zone. Applicants may submit their proposals via FastLaneexternal icon, Research.govexternal icon, or the Grants.govexternal icon, as stated in the funding announcement.

Through NSF’s National Robotics Initiative 2.0 program launched in 2019, NIOSH awarded $1.5 million over three years to the University of Illinois at Chicago and Worcester Polytechnic Institute to fund projects aimed at reducing workers’ exposures to hazards through the development and use of collaborative robots, or cobots.

Through its Center for Occupational Robotics Research, NIOSH is proactively working across industrial sectors to guide the development and use of occupational robots that enhance workers’ safety, health, and well-being. The Center’s research looks at traditional industrial robots, such as work in robotic cells and cages away from human workers, as well as emerging robotic technologies, such as co-robots, wearable robotics or powered exoskeletons, remotely controlled or autonomous vehicles and drones, and future robots using advanced artificial intelligence.

NIOSH is the federal institute that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths. For more information about NIOSH visit

Page last reviewed: February 25, 2021