A fixed-term 100% position is available at the University of Agder, Faculty of Engineering and Science as a PhD Research Fellow in ICT, affiliated to the Department of Information and Communication Technology , for a period of three years, or four years with 25% required duties. The position is located, at the present, at Campus Grimstad. The starting date is in the summer of 2021 or earlier.
The successful applicant will become part of a team of 11 researchers working on artificial intelligence, machine learning, wireless communications, and control theory for autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This team spans three departments and the Center for Integrated Emergency Management of UiA, Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands), the University of Vigo (Spain), and Gradiant (Spain). This creates an interdisciplinary and international collaboration environment designed to leverage the full potential of its members. Upon satisfactory performance, the student can perform research visits for a certain number of months to the aforementioned institutions.
The successful applicant will conduct research in the project Ubiquitous Connectivity via Autonomous Airborne Networks (AirBonnet). This project comprises a set of key developments intended to develop the technology of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as zeppelins, balloons, and multicopters that autonomously navigate through the airspace to provide data connectivity in those locations where it is absent or unsatisfactory.
While households in developed countries receive skyrocketing data rates through optical fibers and smartphones step into the 5G era, roughly one half of the world’s population cannot connect to the internet. Even beyond developing economies, bringing data connectivity to areas where it cannot currently reach would drastically benefit applications such as the internet-of-things, smart agriculture/forestry, wildfire suppression, search-and-rescue missions, paramedical interventions, and emergency response handling to name a few.
To this end, the UAVs in the targeted technology are equipped with a communication module that connects to the ground users on one side and to the cellular terrestrial infrastructure on the other side. The user information may even be relayed through multiple UAVs before reaching its destination. For this technology to be viable, the UAVs must be able to navigate without human supervision to locations with favorable propagation conditions, that is, where the signals that they receive from and transmit to the ground users and cellular infrastructure are not significantly blocked by obstacles such as buildings or mountains.
The key approach in this project is to construct "radio maps" that describe the propagation conditions in a certain region. Using these maps, the UAVs rely on artificial intelligence algorithms to determine the appropriate locations and can even adapt to changes in the user positions and connectivity requirements as well as to coordinate with other UAVs. Our preliminary findings already showcase the ability of artificial deep neural networks to construct radio maps from a small number of measurements collected by the UAVs.
This position involves theoretical research, computer simulation, and measurement collection. Our vision is that learning is maximized by combining theory and practice in the right proportion.
A prerequisite for employment is that the candidate must be admitted to UiA’s PhD program of the Faculty of Engineering and Science, Specialisation in Information and Comunication Technology . The goal of the PhD program is to train students to become independent researchers. This means that students need to complete a coursework component of 30 ECTS intended to provide the necessary background for conducting research in their area. Additional self-study will also be required to fill possible background gaps or specialized knowledge requirements.
A close advising model is generally pursued at the beginning, whereas more independence is gradually granted to the student as she/he becomes more mature. Ideally, the student must be able to conduct research independently after graduation.
Part of the objectives of any PhD program is to develop the student’s communication skills, both oral and written. This is an indispensable requirement for conducting high-quality research nowadays. The PhD program and advising style will intensively promote and assist students in the development of these skills.
The selected applicant will be required to abide by the principles of our group, which state that our research must adhere to top ethical and quality standards, must be rigorous, and must contribute to the advancement of the state of the art. For this reason, we do not publish in low-end journals and conferences or work on problems with limited practical relevance.
More information is available here .
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