PhD in Resilient Hybrid Motion Control of Autonomous Marine Vessels

Trondheim, Norway
07 Mar 2019
End of advertisement period
20 Mar 2019
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

We have a vacancy for a PhD at Departement of marine technology.

We have a vacancy for a PhD position on Resilient hybrid motion control of autonomous marine vessels with Sn formulation of orientation at NTNU’s Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (NTNU AMOS), Department of Marine Technology. The PhD candidate will work in a specialist control engineering environment at NTNU AMOS and the CCDC group at UCSB.

The PhD position aims for the development of novel methods for controlling and observing motions of autonomous vessels, especially orientations, with properties of global stability, robustness to perturbations, and resilience to deliberate disturbances. The PhD study will in particular study hybrid control methods with Sn formulations of orientations to generate control and observer algorithms that achieve strong formal stability and robustness properties at the same time as being practical for computer implementations. The study will further look into how to construct outer guidance and mission planning loops to autonomously optimize operations in a given marine environment. This may be combined with a higher-level learning layer that, given sensed information of the vessel and environment, is capable of generating internal models of the operating environment as input to the mission planning.

The position reports to the supervising professor.

Job description

  • Formulate planar and spherical orientations represented by vectors on the unit sphere (Sn).
  • Develop robust hybrid feedbacks to control orientations of vessels on Sn, with global stability properties.
  • Apply the hybrid feedback control laws to dynamic positioning, heading control, velocity vector control, and path-following control of autonomous ships with robust compensations of current loads.
  • Study the dual problem of observer design for vessel motions using Sn-formulations of orientation.
  • Study the integration of a higher-level guidance loop to provide setpoints to the low level hybrid motion controls in order to perform operation tasks such as stationkeeping or path-following. Characterize stability and robustness issues in this integration, and develop compensating mechanisms.
  • Study and propose an integration of a mission planning layer with the guidance loop, in order to autonomously generate missions according to a high-level mission objective.

Qualification requirements

PhD candidate:

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 [subject area] 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

  • We seek a highly motivated candidate with a MSc degree preferably in Marine Cybernetics (with a Marine Technology and hydrodynamics basis), or alternatively in Engineering Cybernetics or Control Engineering with an application basis on marine systems and hydrodynamics.
  • Master students graduating summer 2019 can apply. Master students graduating by the end of June 2020 may apply for admission as integrated MSc and PhD.
  • Relevant industry experience is an advantage, especially within marine control systems and hydrodynamics.
  • Academic results, publications, relevant specialization, work or research experience, personal qualifications, and motivations for making an impact on future autonomous marine systems will be considered when evaluating the applicants.
  • Excellent English skills, written and spoken, are required. Applicants from non-English speaking countries outside Europe must present an official language test report. The acceptable tests are TOEFL, IELTS, and Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE). Minimum scores are:
    • TOEFL: 600 / writing 4.5 (paper-based test), 92 / writing 22 (internet-based tes
    • IELTS: 6.5, with no section lower than 5.5 (only Academic
    • IELTS test accepted)CAE/CPE: grade B or A.

Our research has civilian objectives. However, equipment restricted by export licenses and ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) is being used in the research areas listed above. 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.

Personal characteristics

  • Courage
  • Generous
  • Thourough
  • Effective
  • Innovative and open minded
  • High integrity

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 without required duties. Appointment to a PhD position requires admission to the PhD programme in Marine Technology ( 

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.

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 Roger Skjetne, 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-119/19 when applying.

Application deadline: 20.03.19

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 Marine Technology

We develop methods and technology related to the blue economy: oil and gas extraction at sea, ship technology and the equipment industry, fisheries and aquaculture. We also have a strong commitment to the development of sustainable solutions for offshore renewable energy, coastal infrastructure, and marine robotics. Marine technology helps to solve major global challenges related to the environment, climate, energy, food and efficient transport. The Department of Marine Technology is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Engineering.

Deadline 20.03.2019
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Department of marine technology

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