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Cyber-physical systems (CPS) have emerged as a cutting edge technology for next-generation industrial applications, and are undergoing rapid development and inspiring numerous application domains. This article presents an innovative CPS application for energy management framework (EMF) towards autonomous electric vehicle (AEV) in smart grid. First, we give a brief overview of CPS research. The enabling technologies and the open research issues of CPS are also discussed. Then we address the wireless sensor networks (WSNs) navigation principle and simulation model of AEV in smart grid, design the communication architecture for EMF to collect status and power consumption demand from AEV and charging stations, and introduce EMF to overcome some issues such as real-time traffic information. Subsequently, the energy-efficient design steps for EMF are proposed and formulated by means of path planning and event-based control technique. Finally, the open research issues for EMF are outlined in brief.