PhD in Synthesis of Human-in-the-Loop Control and Learning System for Autonomous Maneuvering

Ålesund, Norway
07 Dec 2018
End of advertisement period
31 Jan 2019
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

The scale of the maritime industry in Norway has experienced a noticeable increase in recent years. Ships, as the backbone of most of the maritime business, are of great concern to both ship owners and companies, especially for economically and safety beneficial reasons. Nowadays, there is a trend to consider developing more advanced vessels that have intelligence and are capable of executing different levels of autonomy for maritime operations. The term levels of autonomy is often used to describe what degree the plant can act on its own. Autonomy can scale from a machine being completely controlled by human, i.e., tele-operated, to the machine being fully autonomous and without any interaction from human.

Human-in-the-loop control and learning as a special control mode of autonomous ships is of great importance in safety-critical maritime applications. Such a control and learning system will involve the interaction of autonomous/intelligent controllers with human operators. For example, in close-range maneuvering, human operator will be in charge and maneuver the ship according to the encounter situation to avoid collision; while the controller will learn the process from the human operator for further onboard support. This is a form of interaction that invites training from a human in a way which is designed to synthesize the human input for maximum performance.

See  for more information about the project.

The position reports to Head of department.

Job description

This PhD will focus on design and development of the human-in-the-loop control and learning system to support autonomous maneuvering in maritime operations. Taking advantages of expertise from human inputs to deal with environmental disturbances and marine traffic, the system will not only increase ship safety but also be compliance with human regulations/customs.

Qualification requirements

The PhD-position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is completion of a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in automation or computer science 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

  • Good programming skills
  • Good theoretical and analytical skills
  • Have knowledge in control theory and applications
  • Good at artificial intelligence, especially the experience of supervised learning
  • Good written and oral English language skills, documented by either TOEFL, IELTS, Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English

Personal characteristics

  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to work independently as well as in team
  • Potential for research at an international level
  • Keen interest in the wider context of own research, and an ability to engage in cross-disciplinary teams

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability, as well as motivation, 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 before tax per year. From the salary, 2 % is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years (or 4 years with required duties). Appointment to a PhD position requires admission to the PhD programme in a relevant area.

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.

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 Professor Houxiang Zhang, e-mail

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 IV-275/18 when applying.

Application deadline: 31.01.19

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 Ocean Operations and Civil Engineering

We aim to be a hub of international knowledge and innovation in maritime operations. This involves education and research on the design of ships and marine equipment as well as on the operation of vessels. Maritime operations integrate technology, human factors and business. The interfaces between these areas often spark inspiration for innovation and new solutions. The Department of Ocean Operations and Civil Engineering is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Engineering.

Deadline 31.01.2019
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Ålesund
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Jobbnorge ID 161079