Proposers' Day

Proposers’ Day:  This FOA is to solicit proposals to initiate and sustain a Robots in Manufacturing Environments MII (RIME-MII) as part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI).  There will be two Proposers’ Days associated with this FOA.  The first Proposers’ Day will be conducted at the NASA Ames conference Center, Building 3, 500 Severyns Rd., NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035 on August 10, 2016. A second proposers’ day will be conducted at ANSER Conference Center located at 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041 on 12 August 2016 (scheduled to end NLT 2 PM local time). The purpose of the Proposers’ Day is to familiarize interested proposers with the concept and vision for the Robots in Manufacturing Environments Manufacturing Innovation Institute and the associated technology needs.  The Proposers’ Days are for informational purposes only.  Attendance is not a prerequisite for submitting a proposal.  However, attending one of these events will provide a valuable opportunity for interested proposers to ask questions, network in support of potential teaming arrangements and obtain information about the RIME-MII.  There is no fee to attend.  The Government will not reimburse any attendee for any cost associated with participation.  In addition, the Government is under no obligation to award any related contract/agreement associated with this event.  Further details on this event can be found on www.manufacturing.gov. Questions and Answers from both Proposers’ Days will be posted on www.manufacturing.gov

Brief Program Summary:    

The Manufacturing Innovation Institutes (MII) bring together industry, institutions of higher education (four- and two-year universities, community colleges, technical institutes, etc.), and federal and state agencies to accelerate innovation by investing in industrially relevant manufacturing technologies with broad applications. The MIIs help bridge the gap between basic/early research and product development by developing and scaling critical technologies in the manufacturing readiness level 4 to 7 ranges.  These MIIs are to provide shared assets to help companies – particularly small manufacturers – access cutting-edge capabilities and equipment, creating an unparalleled environment to educate and train students and workers in advanced manufacturing skills. Each Institute is to have a specific technical or market focus, serving as a regional hub of manufacturing excellence, providing the critical infrastructure necessary to create a dynamic, highly collaborative environment spurring manufacturing technology innovations and technology transfer leading to production scale-up and commercialization. When established, each MII will be a public–private partnership and a key part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) network of institutes. Key design tenets of the NNMI are captured within National Network for Manufacturing Innovation: A Preliminary Design, a report issued by the White House National Science and Technology Council on Jan. 16, 2013. The NNMI Annual Report and the NNMI strategic plan can be found www.manufacturing.gov.

The Government intends for this FOA to support the establishment of a RIME-MII to advance state-of-the-art application of collaborative robotic technologies in manufacturing environments. The motivation for the RIME-MII is to increase U.S. competitiveness in robotics applied primarily in manufacturing environments by 1) encouraging the development and scale up for commercialization of critical enabling technologies such as human-robot/robot-robot collaboration; perception and sensing; robotic control: adaptation, learning, and repurposing; autonomy and mobility; and, dexterous manipulation.2) establishing common standards and testing protocols allowing the integration of multiple robotics technologies; 3) creating a robotic technology solution repository (to include modelling tools, databases, catalogue of technology demonstrations and concept  sharing mechanisms ); and 4) providing workforce training and education programs to ensure the U.S. workforce can effectively collaborate  with robots in a broad spectrum of manufacturing environments.  

The cost of labor drives low skilled manufacturing jobs to low-wage nations around the world.  The insertion of agile, collaborative robotics into U.S. manufacturing has the potential to alter the current paradigm by changing the cost, quality and efficiency equations.  The vision of the institute includes robots working collaboratively with humans on the assembly line and in material handling, increasing productivity and precision while freeing humans from low-value added activities. The integration of advancements in collaborative robotic capabilities could create new opportunities to address U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. This opportunity is designed to interrupt the global manufacturing paradigm of off-shoring production of innovative products, based upon the lowest labor cost.

This Institute will bring together a diverse collection of industry technologies, innovations, and institutional knowledge to ensure that robotics is an effective tool in strengthening U.S. manufacturing competitiveness in the global market.  The RIME-MII will create a shared collaborative environment to advance and synergize emerging technologies that accelerate the development of agile, collaborative robots for manufacturing. The RIME-MII will provide the facilities and institutional knowledge for prototype integration and development, testing, evaluation, validation, and verification of robotic technologies.  This Institute will synthesize industry concepts and practices to develop and support standards and a robotic technology repository, compressing learning curves for manufacturers and users.

To be successful, this MII must bring together, engineering, computer science, materials science and human to machine behavioral research and manufacturing expertise from universities, other research organizations and industrial businesses, along with local, state, and federal government.  The goal is to establish a collaboration that will mature robotics-related technologies across the range of manufacturing readiness levels (MRL) 4-7, that will enhance U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. Innovative multi-disciplinary approaches to manufacturing technologies specific to robotic capability gaps and challenges will enable enhanced performance and affordability of future robot platforms.

The Government seeks proposals to this FOA that clearly articulate the proposed vision, and governance model, infrastructure, technical applications and a sustainable business plan for the RIME-MII.