PhD Candidate in Learning Control Policies for Evolutionary Design of Aerial Robots
About the job
Aerial robotics have scored some major successes, yet – interestingly – they have long employed designs that merely represent miniaturizations of manned aviation concepts or have resorted to biomimic designs. However, an alternative paradigm is possible if we combine the forces of evolutionary robot design (airframe, sensing) and data-driven navigation policy learning in an iterative loop that can allow us to identify the novel designs and autonomy functionalities necessary towards aerial robots that are best tailored to their environment. Within this broader scope, the PhD candidate in this position will work on the challenging problems of defining the process for evolving rotorcraft-like aerial robot designs (genotype/phenotype and evolutionary algorithms) in combination with “closing the design loop” through reinforcement learning for the stabilization control of the dynamics of such novel designs. The envisioned contributions will break new ground in the domain of purposeful and environment-specific robot design and autonomy. The activity will be part of a research project that further involves multi-institutional and industry collaboration.
The position is part of the Autonomous Robots Lab activities in resilient robotic autonomy across diverse operational conditions and environments. 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. For more details about our team and our publication track record, see: https://www.autonomousrobotslab.com/publications.html. Indicative instances of our work can be seen in the following videos of our robotic experimentation: https://youtu.be/P3uT4gHEFHw & https://youtu.be/SNMsKAnCQkw
For a position as a PhD Candidate, the goal is a completed doctoral education up to an obtained doctoral degree.
Your immediate leader is Professor Kostas Alexis as the main scientific supervisor of the research.
Duties of the position
- Fundamental contributions in the science of evolutionary aerial robot design with the performance of a learned control policy driving the next evolutionary steps.
- Fundamental contributions on scalable control policy learning across iterations of evolved aerial robot agents.
- Focus on implementable airframe designs, prototyping of those and extensive experimentation to validate the performance identified in simulation.
Required selection criteria
- You must have a professionally relevant background in any or all of the domains of machine learning, evolutionary algorithms, optimization, robotics and other synergistic domains.
- Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree program, where 120 credits are obtained at master's level.
- 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 the faculty's doctoral program (see: https://www.ntnu.edu/ie/research/phd)
The appointment is to be made in accordance with Regulations on terms of employment for positions such as postdoctoral fellow, Phd candidate, research assistant and specialist candidate 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 software engineering including strong background in C++ and/or Python.
- Experience with the Robot Operating System (ROS).
- Experience with simulators for robotic systems.
- Experience with implementation of real-life robotic systems.
- Good written and oral English skills.
- Be scientifically curious and open to new research challenges.
- Demonstrate independence and persistence in addressing technical problems.
- Be flexible and reliable, with ability to work effectively independently and as part of a team.
- exciting and stimulating tasks in a strong international academic environment
- an open and inclusive work environment with dedicated colleagues
- favourable terms in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
- employee benefits
Salary and conditions
As a PhD candidate (code 1017) you are normally paid from gross NOK 532 200 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 program in Engineering Cybernetics https://www.ntnu.edu/itk/research 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 your application will be considered based solely on information submitted by the application deadline. You must therefore ensure that your application clearly demonstrates how your skills and experience fulfil the criteria specified above.
The application must include:
- CV and certificates
- 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.
- Name and contact information of at least two referees / reference letters
- If you have publications, software that you have developed or other relevant research work please include it (or a summary for it)
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.
We will take joint work into account. If it is difficult to identify your efforts in the joint work, you must enclose a short 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.
NTNU believes that inclusion and diversity is our strength. We want to recruit people with different competencies, educational backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives to contribute to solving our social responsibilities within education and research. We will facilitate for our employees’ needs.
NTNU is working actively to increase the number of women employed in scientific positions and has a number of resources to promote equality.
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.
A public list of applicants with name, age, job title and municipality of residence is prepared after the application deadline. If you want to reserve yourself from entry on the public applicant list, this must be justified. Assessment will be made in accordance with current legislation. You will be notified if the reservation is not accepted.
If you have any questions about the position, please contact Professor Konstantinos Alexis, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact HR consultant Berit Dahl, e-mail: email@example.com .
If you think this looks interesting and in line with your qualifications, please submit your application electronically via jobbnorge.no with your CV, diplomas and certificates attached. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Upon request, you must be able to obtain certified copies of your documentation.
Application deadline: 06.08.2023.
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 6th August 2023
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Place of service Trondheim