PhD in Dynamic Robot Interaction and Motion Compensation

Trondheim, Norway
20 Nov 2018
End of advertisement period
11 Dec 2018
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

About the position

We have a vacancy for a PhD candidate in “Dynamic robot interaction and motion compensation” at the Department of Engineering Cybernetics.

Robotics for moving objects in manufacturing and health (ROMO) is a researcher project financed by the IKTPLUSS program of the Research Council of Norway. The project is a collaboration between SINTEF Digital and NTNU Department of Engineering Cybernetics. In both manufacturing/process industry and the healthcare industry there is an augmented need for robots that can observe and interact safely with moving objects. In most applications, the motion of the objects is constrained, but since it is only partly known in advance, real time estimation is needed. The moving objects that the robot will act upon may be rigid or soft, depending on application, and the force used in manipulating or grasping has to be measured and controlled. Furthermore, the robot needs to have the ability to do complex operations on the object whilst it is moving. In healthcare, assistive robotics require safe interactions with flexible objects (humans). Automation of interventional procedures necessitates real-time methods for detection and compensation of motion as well as haptic feedback, in order to safely interact with patients and health personnel.  There are three specific scientific and technological objectives of ROMO: 1) Develop methods for real-time extraction and tracking of features from medical ultrasound images and video images, 2) Develop methods for real-time estimation and prediction of motion based on physical models and machine learning, 3) Develop methods for closed-loop control of robot manipulator arms based on motion estimation and force feedback.

The position reports to Professor Tommy Gravdahl.

Job description

The doctoral candidate will contribute to the project within the following areas:

  • Motion estimation and prediction: Develop models suited for motion estimation based on first order principles. Apply state-of-the art nonlinear state estimation techniques to estimate and predict the object's state, while simultaneously identify unknown model parameters and/or learn un-modelled dynamics.
  • Dynamic interaction control: Develop variable admittance control laws and employ optimization techniques or machine learning for tuning of control variables to achieve high-speed and high robustness interaction. Develop algorithms for optimal reference trajectory generation for the approach phase.
  • Experimental validation: The methods developed in the project will be demonstrated on two specific use-cases. The use-cases reflect relevant industrial and medical needs and purposes: 1) Robot-assisted probe placement and alignment, and 2) Manipulating objects on hanging conveyors.

Qualification requirements

The qualification requirement is completion of a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in control engineering, engineering cybernetics, robotics, or a similar discipline or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. Applicants with no letter grades from previous studies must have an equally good academic foundation. Applicants who are unable to meet these criteria may be considered only if they can document that they are particularly suitable candidates for education leading to a PhD degree.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, postdoctor and research assistant.

Other qualifications:

  • Strong skills in one or more areas such as adaptive and nonlinear control, state- and parameter estimation, optimization, and system theory.
  • Preferably be experienced in robotic system integration.
  • Excellent written and oral English language skills are required. Applicants from non-European countries where English is not the official language must present an official language test report. 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

  • The candidate is expected to have great organizational skills such as the ability to plan, coordinate resources and meet deadlines.
  • Ability to work independently and in a team.

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.

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 449 400 per annum before tax. 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 admission to the PhD programme in Engineering Cybernetics.

As a PhD candidate, you undertake to participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period. A condition of appointment is that you are in fact qualified for admission to the PhD programme within three months.

The candidate will be located at both NTNU and SINTEF Digital's offices in Trondheim, Norway.

It is preferable that the position is filled as soon as possible, please state desired start date in the application.

Appointment takes place on the terms that apply to State employees at any time, and after the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

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. Under the Freedom of Information Act (Offentleglova), information about the applicant may be made public even if the applicant has requested not to have their name entered on the list of applicants.

Questions about the position can be directed to Dr. Esten Ingar Grøtli (, and Professor Tommy Gravdahl ( .

About the application:

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.

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applicants invited for interview must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters.

Please refer to the application number 2018/42258 when applying.

Application deadline: 2018-12-11.

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 11.12.2018
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Project
Place of service Trondheim

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