Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

Exploring New Frontiers in Cyber-Physical Systems

May 18th, 2015 / in Announcements, NSF, Research News / by Helen Wright

National Science Foundation (NSF) [credit: NSF]

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced two five-year, center-scale awards to advance the frontier in cyber-physical systems (CPS). With these two new projects totaling $8.75 million, NSF has now invested more than $250 million since 2008 to build the foundational knowledge underlying all CPS.

Extending the efforts of wearable CPS sensors and devices, one project will develop a very realistic cardiac and device model called “Cyberheart.” The CyberHeart platform will be used to test and validate medical devices faster and at a far lower cost than existing methods. CyberHeart could also be used to design safe, patient-specific device therapies, thereby lowering the risk to the patient.

This project is highly collaborative. The co-investigators on the project include Edmund Clarke (Carnegie Mellon University), Elizabeth Cherry (Rochester Institute of Technology), W. Rance Cleaveland (University of Maryland), Flavio Fenton (Georgia Tech), Rahul Mangharam (University of Pennsylvania), Arnab Ray (Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering) and James Glimm and Radu Grosu (Stony Brook University). Richard A. Gray of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is another key contributor.

The other project is made up of a team of leading computer scientists, roboticists, and biologists that have come together to develop a system that combines the capabilities of nano-scale robots with specially designed synthetic organisms. Together, they believe their hybrid “bio-CPS” will be capable of performing heretofore impossible functions, from microscopic assembly to cell sensing within the body.

After the physical systems revolution in the 18th century, the cyber revolution in the 20th century and the cyber physical systems revolution we are in the midst of, we can expect bio cyber physical systems to be the next big thing. Our project is exploring the synthesis of such systems bringing together the tools of robotics, software synthesis and synthetic biology.


Vijay Kumar, University of Pennsylvania

The project builds on previous research by each team member in diverse disciplines and early proof-of-concept designs of bio-CPS. According to the team, the research is also driven by recent advances in the emerging field of synthetic biology, in particular the ability to rapidly incorporate new capabilities into simple cells. Researchers so far have not been able to control and coordinate the behavior of synthetic cells in isolation, but the introduction of microrobots that can be externally controlled may be transformative. The co-investigators of this project include Vijay Kumar (University of Pennsylvania), Ron Weiss (MIT), and Douglas Densmore (BU).

For more information, please see NSF press release 15-052.

Exploring New Frontiers in Cyber-Physical Systems

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