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PhD Position in the Domain of Autonomous Aerial Robotics for Digital Forestry

Trondheim, Norway
Closing date
3 Jun 2022

About the position

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

The Department of Engineering Cybernetics is looking for a PhD candidate in the domain of Autonomous Aerial Robotics for Digital Forestry. The PhD candidate will work on the challenging problem of resilient autonomous navigation and mapping under the forest canopy thus allowing to collect essential data that will be used for digital analytics towards sustainable forestry practices and optimized robotic harvesting. The research activity is part of a soon-to-start EU project on robotics for sustainable forestry with our partners involving top international institutions and industry across Europe. 

The position is part of the Autonomous Robots Lab activities in resilient robotic autonomy across diverse operational conditions. The Autonomous Robots Lab has leading research in robotic autonomy and demonstrated performance in a collection of world-class projects funded by both European and US sources. As part of new research activities of our lab, we will work in the broad area of digital analytics and robotics for sustainable forestry. Indicative instances of our work can be seen in the following videos of our robotic experimentation: & 

The position reports to Professor Kostas Alexis as the main scientific supervisor of the research. 

Duties of the position

The position is part of our research vision to reshape robotic autonomy and specifically focuses on the deployment of resilient flying robots under the forest canopy in order to map comprehensively and collect valuable data for forest digital analytics. To enable this vision we intend to develop new fundamental knowledge and key technologies in aerial robotics, machine learning methods for robust navigation, and path planning algorithms. As a PhD candidate in this position, your task will be to extend our line of research, break new ground and identify the optimal solutions facilitating seamless aerial autonomy within dense forests involving thin tree branches and other obstacles. We focus on disseminating our research results in top internationally recognized journals and conferences, while we also focus on open-sourcing activities.

Required selection criteria

  • You must have a relevant educational background in control engineering (cybernetics), or similar relevant fields including electrical and computer engineering, computer science, and mechanical engineering with a focus on robotics, and more. 
  • Your education must correspond – or be equivalent with – a five-year Norwegian degree program (equivalent to 120 credits). 
  • You must have a strong academic 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.
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to our PhD program: 
  • Good written and oral English language skills. Applicants are requested to provide evidence of good English language skills, written and spoken. 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) [or other that the candidate explains as equivalent]. In extraordinary circumstances, formal documentation of language skills can be relinquished. In such cases, the candidate’s language skills will be assessed in a personal interview

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

  • Knowledge and skills in the following areas : Robotics, computer science, statistics, machine learning, computer vision, state estimation, sensor fusion, motion planning, autonomous systems, embedded systems
  • Experience in programming in C++
  • Experience with the Robot Operating System (ROS)

Personal characteristics

  • Be scientifically curious and open to new research challenges
  • Demonstrate autonomy but also be a team-player
  • You have a passion for robotics

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.

The period of employment is 3 years.

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.

The position is subject to external funding.

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 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:

  • CV, certificates and diplomas
  • 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. 
  • Research plan (maximum 2 pages)
  • Name and address of two referees
  • 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.

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief 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

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.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Konstantinos Alexis, email  

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 2022/16459 when applying.

Application deadline: 03.06.2022.

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 3rd June 2022
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Project
Place of service Trondheim

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