PhD Position Communication and Sensing with Drones using Light and AI

Updated: 1 day ago
Deadline: 30 Apr 2024

Your research goal will be to create a new system for drone navigation and communication using the light bulbs in our houses and building, and cities.

Drones are not fully trusted yet. Their reliance on radios and cameras for navigation raises safety and privacy concerns. These systems can fail, causing accidents, or be misused for unconsented recordings.

We propose a radically new infrastructure where drones obtain communication and navigation solely from the light bulbs in our streets, roads and buildings. Modulated light intensity will allow drones to operate outdoors and indoors without the need for radios, GPS or cameras.

Similar to the way old lighthouses provided navigational aid to maritime pilots, this project aims at transforming the light bulbs in our roads, streets and buildings into a modern version of those lighthouses. Light bulbs will play the role of “air traffic control towers”, modulating their light intensities to provide communication and navigation services to drones.

To achieve this goal, we will exploit advances in visible light communication (VLC), an emerging wireless technology that allows transmitting information using any type of LED. The core idea behind VLC is similar to communicating with somebody by turning a flashlight on and off. The modulation, however, is done at such high speeds that humans will only see a normal light on (no flickering effects), while drones will see data coming at high data rates.

This novel approach will transform our vast lighting infrastructure into the backbone for drone operation.

The PhD research will include a holistic approach, including the design of the embedded system, including drones, and the design of communication and sensing methods.

The applicant should have a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Computer Science, or a closely related field. A solid knowledge of embedded systems is required.

The position demands a strong background to build new prototypes and perform experimental work. The successful applicant should have good English language proficiency and a team player personality.

Prior knowledge on drones is a plus but not required.

At the time of recruitment, the candidate must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months over the past 3 years. 

For more information on the project see:

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements .

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. 

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service . This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme  for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values  and we actively engage  to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

The Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) brings together three scientific disciplines. Combined, they reinforce each other and are the driving force behind the technology we all use in our daily lives. Technology such as the electricity grid, which our faculty is helping to make completely sustainable and future-proof. At the same time, we are developing the chips and sensors of the future, whilst also setting the foundations for the software technologies to run on this new generation of equipment – which of course includes AI. Meanwhile we are pushing the limits of applied mathematics, for example mapping out disease processes using single cell data, and using mathematics to simulate gigantic ash plumes after a volcanic eruption. In other words: there is plenty of room at the faculty for ground-breaking research. We educate innovative engineers and have excellent labs and facilities that underline our strong international position. In total, more than 1000 employees and 4,000 students work and study in this innovative environment.

Click here  to go to the website of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science.

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. Marco Zuniga ([email protected]).

Applicants need to submit the following documents in a single PDF:

  • [Optional] Motivation letter.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Bachelor's and Master's transcripts (list of courses and grades).
  • The curriculum vitae should include:

  • The names and contact information of at least two references, but no more than three.
  • List of publications (if any).
  • The national rank of the attended universities. Provide a link supporting the provided rank.
  • The applicant's rank in the graduating class (if avaliable). For example: Xth out of Y students, or top x%. Provide a document validating the class rank (if available).
  • The planned starting date of the position is March 2024 but no later than August 2024.

    Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before April 30, 2024.

    CV reviews are done on an ongoing basis. If we find a suitable candidate then the vacancy will be closed

    • A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
    • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
    • Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.

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