PhD Candidate in Safety Assessment and Verification of Collision and Grounding Avoidance Algorithms

Updated: 7 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 30 Jun 2023

About the job

For a position as a PhD Candidate, the goal is a completed doctoral education up to an obtained doctoral degree. 

The position is funded through the SFI AutoShip , which is an 8-years research-based innovation centre that will contribute to letting Norway take a leading role in the development of autonomous ships for safe and sustainable operations. The PhD candidate will work on the challenging research topic of safety assessment and verification of collision avoidance algorithms for autonomous ships.

Collision avoidance systems for ships are computer-based systems designed to help ships avoid colliding with other ships, obstacles, or landmasses. They typically use various sensors such as radar and cameras to detect and track other vessels in the vicinity and are critical systems for enabling the use of autonomous ships. A particular challenge related to collision avoidance systems is bridging the gap between COLREG (the traffic rules at sea) and the algorithms for collision avoidance. COLREG contains several qualitative terms to describe acceptable collision avoidance behavior, such as “ample time” and “good seamanship”. As such, implementing the rules in automatic collision avoidance systems is not straight forward. This also complicates the challenge of testing such systems and evaluating the test outcomes. The candidate will contribute towards developing a framework for simulation-based testing and evaluation of the performance of collision avoidance systems for autonomous ships. This work will be conducted in cooperation with law professionals. 

The candidate will work within an interesting multidisciplinary research centre, benefiting from cooperation with engaged and diverse industrial and academic partners within Cybernetics, Maritime Law, Risk analysis, Machine Learning, Safety Science, and Practical Navigation. The work will contribute directly to one or several of the centre´s use-cases.

Your immediate leader is Associate Professor Børge Rokseth as the main scientific supervisor of the research. 

Duties of the position

  • Analyze previous accidents, insurance cases and historical AIS data (recorded tracks sailed by ships) and investigate how the different elements of COLREG are being interpreted for specific navigational situations. The aim is to be able to use this to systematically identify challenging collision avoidance scenarios that can be used for simulation-based testing of collision avoidance systems.  
  • Develop methods for automatically searching for challenging traffic scenarios during simulation-based testing of collision avoidance systems. 
  • Develop a framework for evaluating the performance of collision avoidance algorithms in terms of their abilities to prevent collisions, prevent groundings, comply with COLREG, and communicate their intentions to traditional vessels involved in the traffic scenarios. This may include the development of situation-dependent performance metrics to allow machine-base assessment of performance. 
  • Demonstrate the developed methods and tools on the use cases in the AutoShip project.  
  • Publish in scientific journals and conferences and disseminate research to research partners in the AutoShip consortium.

Required selection criteria

  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree program, where 120 credits are obtained at master's level.
  • You must have a strong background from your previous studies and an average grade from the master's degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU's grading scale . If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education.
  • Master's students can apply, but the master's degree must be obtained and documented You must meet the requirements for admission to the the PhD programme in Engineering Cybernetics .
  • You must have documented knowledge through courses, projects, or former professional experience in two or more of the listed subjects: control engineering, formal verification, systems theory, systems engineering, marine technology, system modelling and simulation or safety science.
  • You have experience in scientific computing within development environments such as Matlab and/or Python.
  • Very good written and oral English skills. 

The appointment is to be made in accordance with Regulations on terms of employment for positions such as postdoctoral fellow, Phd candidate, research assistant and specialist candidate  and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant 

Preferred selection criteria

  • Good collaborative skills as the candidate will work closely with other people in the AutoShip-consortium.
  • Very good skills in formal reasoning are preferred. 
  • A sound academic or industrial background.

Personal characteristics

  • Motivation and a desire to make an impact on the development and application of autonomous systems. 
  • Adaptive and oriented towards finding solutions.
  • Good at communication.

Emphasis will be placed on personal and interpersonal qualities.

We offer

Salary and conditions

As a PhD candidate (code 1017) you are normally paid from gross NOK 532 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to PhD programme in Engineering Cybernetics  within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants , and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU.

After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that your application will be considered based solely on information submitted by the application deadline. You must therefore ensure that your application clearly demonstrates how your skills and experience fulfil the criteria specified above.

The application must include:

  • CV and certificates 
  • Transcripts and diplomas for bachelor's and master's degrees. If you have not completed the master's degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted.
  • A copy of the master's thesis. If you recently have submitted your master's thesis, you can attach a draft of the thesis. Documentation of a completed master's degree must be presented before taking up the position.
  • Name and contact information of three referees, or reference letters. 
  • If you have publications or other relevant research work

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor's and master's education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here . If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

We will take joint work into account. If it is difficult to identify your efforts in the joint work, you must enclose a short description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates. 

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

NTNU believes that inclusion and diversity is our strength. We want to recruit people with different competencies, educational backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives to contribute to solving our social responsibilities within education and research. We will facilitate for our employees’ needs.

NTNU is working actively to increase the number of women employed in scientific positions and has a number of resources to promote equality.  

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

A public list of applicants with name, age, job title and municipality of residence is prepared after the application deadline. If you want to reserve yourself from entry on the public applicant list, this must be justified. Assessment will be made in accordance with current legislation . You will be notified if the reservation is not accepted.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Associate Professor Børge Rokseth email: . If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact HR Consultant Berit Dahl, e-mail: .

If you think this looks interesting and in line with your qualifications, please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates attached. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Upon request, you must be able to obtain certified copies of your documentation.  

Application deadline: 30.06.23

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Engineering Cybernetics (ITK)

Engineering cybernetics is the study of automatic control and monitoring of dynamic systems. We develop the technologies of tomorrow through close cooperation with industry and academia, both in Norway and internationally. The Department contributes to the digitalization, automation and robotization of society. The Department of Engineering Cybernetics  is one of seven departments in the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering .

Deadline 30th June 2023
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Campus Gløshaugen

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