PhD Positions in Control System for Autonomous Marine Robot

Updated: about 1 month ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 30 Oct 2021

About the position

The positions are for three years with the possibility of one-year extension for teaching assistant duties, and are connected to the ERC Advanced Grant Project Control of light vehicle-manipulator systems (CRÈME)  and the NTNU VISTA Centre for Autonomous Robotic Operations Subsea (CAROS) .

The objective of the ERC project is to develop a control framework that enables the advent of light and freely moving autonomous robots that can perform complex and versatile operations in challenging environments, involving highly precise and forceful physical interactions. 

The NTNU VISTA Centre for Autonomous Robotic Operations Subsea (CAROS) is an interdisciplinary research centre between the NTNU Departments of Engineering Cybernetics and Marine Technology and Equinor on autonomous underwater robotic operations with focus on resident autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) that are supported by subsea docking systems for energy charging and communication. The VISTA Center is awarded by Equinor and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, funded for 5 years in collaboration with host institution NTNU. Together with ground-breaking research on articulated underwater robots and autonomy we proceed towards a game changer in offshore oil and gas activities in terms of increased efficiency in marine operations and lower CO2 footprint. The proposed scope will contribute to higher uptime of subsea production units as well as higher marine environmental capabilities in case of incidents. The addressed research will also be of high relevance for ocean science and other marine industries such as maintenance and inspection of offshore wind installations and aquaculture. The methods will be demonstrated and tested on the NTNU snake robot Eelume, an articulated intervention-AUV (AIAUV), as well as remotely operated vehicles (ROV) with manipulators.

The role of the PhD candidates will be to develop efficient methods for

Autonomous docking and intervention operations: To achieve truly autonomous resident robots subsea, the research questions of autonomous docking and autonomous intervention need to be solved.  A permanent docking station on the seafloor, where the subsea robot can charge the batteries and transfer the results of a mission, will reduce the current need for frequent launch and recovery operations. For fully autonomous resident robots, autonomous docking is required.  Moreover, while existing resident subsea robots are still remotely operated, autonomous intervention is required for truly autonomous resident robots.


  • To develop accurate and robust methods for vision-based      autonomous docking of subsea robots.
  • To develop methods achieving high-accuracy position and force control for autonomous intervention operations with light subsea robots, including small remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and articulated intervention-AUVs (AIAUVs). 
  • The candidates will work within a highly competent research group. The tasks are academically challenging and at the same time industrially highly relevant.

Duties of the position

  • Research into efficient methods for control of autonomous marine robots
  • Cooperation with the research group
  • Upon agreement with the candidate and the department, the position can be extended to four years if the candidate undertakes teaching duties

Required selection criteria

The PhD-positions´ main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is that you have completed a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in Engineering Cybernetics/Automatic Control/Control Engineering/Robotics or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale . If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic foundation. If you are unable to meet these criteria you may be considered only if you can document that you are particularly suitable for education leading to a PhD degree.

Master students in their final year are also invited to apply. Employment will then be postponed until the master degree is finished.

Our research has civilian objectives. However, equipment restricted by export licenses and ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) is being used in the research project. Applicants that are citizens of Norway, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, EU or NATO countries are eligible. Other applicants are required to provide evidence of eligibility to use such equipment for their application to be considered/in their application.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants  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

  • Background in nonlinear control theory and either robot control or marine control systems is a requirement. 
  • Applicants who do not master a Scandinavian language and do not have English as mother tongue, must document a thorough knowledge of English. The following tests can be used as such documentation: TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE). Minimum scores are: TOEFL: 600 (paper-based test), 92 (Internet-based test), IELTS: 6.5, with no section lower than 5.5 (only Academic IELTS test accepted), CAE/CPE: grade B or A.

Personal characteristics

  • High self-motivation and high motivation for the project
  • Intrinsic curiosity and open-minded attitude
  • Independent working style
  • Very good communication skills, good in collaborating with others in an interdisciplinary research environment

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 491 200 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.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the 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.

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 applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above. 

The application must include:

  • A motivation letter (0.5-2 pages), indicating how the applicant envisages her/his contribution within the project
  • CV which includes information about education background and work experience.
  • Certified copies of transcripts from Bachelor & Master degrees. Candidates from universities outside Norway must include a Diploma Supplement or similar documentation, which describes in detail the program of study, the grading system and the rights for further studies associated with the obtained degree.
  • Contact information for two references (including email addresses and telephone number)
  • English language proficiency documentation (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS, etc.). This requirement is waived for applicants whose mother tongue is English, as well as for applicants from Scandinavian countries.

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.

Publications and other academic works that the applicant would like to be considered in the evaluation must accompany the application. Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify the individual applicant's contribution to joint works, the applicant must include a brief description of his or her contribution.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability, in terms of the qualification requirements specified in the advertisement. 

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

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

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. 

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.

In accordance with The Public Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

Questions about the position can be directed to Project leader NTNU: Kristin Y. Pettersen, Professor, Department of Engineering Cybernetics , e-mail:  .

Please submit your application electronically via  with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI) .

If you are invited for interview you must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number 2021/49841 when applying.

Application deadline: 30.09.2021.

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 September 2021
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime (3 jobs)
Duration Project
Place of service Trondheim

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