PhD Position in Automation and Autonomy for Digital Transformation Project

Trondheim, Norway
19 Apr 2018
End of advertisement period
27 May 2018
Contract Type
Full Time

Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering

Department of Engineering Cybernetics

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) is now launching a strategic research program called Digital transformation with nine research projects. One of these projects is about the development of autonomous all-electric passenger ferries for urban water transport (Autoferry). Succeeding with the Autoferry project requires a broad multi-disciplinary approach and involves six PhD positions. The position announced here is on the topic of Automation and autonomy, and is affiliated with the Department of Engineering Cybernetics (ITK) at the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (IE). The place of work is in Trondheim.

Information about the department

ITK has 25 professors, 17 adjunct professors, about 15 postdocs and researchers as well as 70 PhD candidates. The research and educational activities at ITK include both fundamental and applied activities in areas such as automatic control and systems theory, estimation and optimization, cyber-physical systems, autonomous unmanned vehicles, robotics, process control, smart grids, biomedical technology, embedded and real-time systems, and aquaculture cybernetics. The department is involved in numerous research projects and centers, including the Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (NTNU AMOS).

Work description

This is a researcher training position aimed at providing promising researcher recruits the opportunity of academic development in the form of a doctoral degree.

Specifically, this PhD position will be concerned with developing the fundamentals of an integrated automation and autonomy system for the ferry. The combination of low-level automation (reactive control) and high-level autonomy (deliberate planning and control) is necessary for an autonomous passenger ferry to achieve safe and precise crossing of a city canal.

The automation module will typically use standard motion control methods, while the autonomy module will employ deliberate planning methods to break down the ferry’s mission into distinct tasks, such as transit, docking, undocking, etc., which the automation module must execute in an energy-efficient, safe and predictable manner. These modules must be developed and integrated in a purposeful manner.

Also, the automation and autonomy modules rely on information from a sensor fusion module receiving data from both on-shore and on-board sensors. As such, situational awareness for the ferry is also an important topic for this PhD position.

The research work will include theoretical development and analysis, implementation and verification by computer simulations, as well as validation by real-world experiments.

The research will be carried out in an interdisciplinary environment of several research groups at NTNU and internationally, and under the guidance of supervisors from the Department of Engineering Cybernetics, the Department of Marine Technology and the Department of ICT and Natural Sciences at NTNU.


We seek an ambitious and highly-motivated individual with a master’s degree in cybernetics, automatic control, applied mathematics, computer science or similar fields. Working knowledge of Linux, ROS, Matlab, Python and C++ will be considered an advantage.

Motivation for fundamental scientific research of practical relevance is essential. Experience with hands-on experimental work will therefore also be considered an advantage.

Academic results, publications, relevant specialization, work or research experience, personal qualifications and motivation will be considered when evaluating the applicants.

The appointment is for a term of 3 years without teaching assistance, or up to 4 years including 25% of teaching assistance.

See here for regulations concerning appointment and promotion to teaching and research posts:

Language requirements

Applicants who do not master a Scandinavian language must 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). 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.

Formal regulations

Appointments are made in accordance with the regulations in force regarding terms of employment for PhD candidates issued by the Ministry of Education and Research, with relevant parts of the additional guidelines for appointment as a PhD candidate at NTNU.

Applicants must undertake to participate in an organized PhD programme of study during their period of employment. The person who is appointed must comply with the conditions that apply at any time to employees in the public sector. In addition, a contract will be signed regarding the period of employment.

Candidates completing their MSc-degree in the Spring 2018 are encouraged to apply. The position is also open for integrated PhD for NTNU students starting their final year of their master degree in Autumn 2018, see for information about integrated PhD.

It is a prerequisite that the successful applicant applies for and is granted admission to the relevant PhD study program as soon as possible after employment. NTNU’s PhD regulations require a master’s degree or equivalent with at least 5 years of studies, and an average ECTS grade of A or B within a scale of A-E for passing grades (A best). Applicants must be qualified for admission as PhD students at NTNU. See for more information.

See here for regulations concerning appointment and promotion to teaching and research posts:

Salary conditions

The position is in code 1017 Research fellow, and is remunerated at a gross NOK 436.900 – 537.700 per year, depending on qualifications. A deduction of 2% is made as a statutory contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.


NTNU can offer an informal and friendly workplace with dedicated colleagues, academic challenges and attractive schemes for home loans, insurance and pensions in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering wants to attract outstanding and creative candidates who can contribute to our ongoing research activities. We believe that diversity is important to achieve a good, inclusive working environment. We encourage all qualified candidates to apply, regardless of the gender, disability or cultural background.

The appointment is subject to the conditions in effect at any time for employees in the public sector, and assessments regarding the legislations regulating export control and knowledge transfer.

Under Section 25 of the Freedom of Information Act, information about the applicant may be made public even if the applicant has requested not to have his or her name entered on the list of applicants.

Further details about the position can be obtained from Head of Department Morten Breivik, e-mail:

Application requirements

Applications are to be submitted electronically through this page ( Preferably, all attachments should be combined into a single file.

The application must contain:

  • CV including information relevant for the qualifications and contact information for at least 2 reference persons
  • Certified copies of academic diplomas and transcripts
  • Applicants from universities outside of Norway are requested to send a diploma supplement (or a similar document) which describes in detail the study and grading system, and the rights for further studies associated with the obtained degree
  • A short research statement (max. 3 pages) including:
    • A short presentation of the motivation for a PhD study
    • Why the applicant is suited for the position
    • The applicant’s view of research challenges for the PhD position

Publications and any other work that the applicant wishes to be considered must also be enclosed. Joint works will be considered if a short summary outlining the applicant's contributions is attached.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Mark the application with the reference number: IE-081-2018

Application deadline: May 27, 2018

About this job

  • Deadline Sunday, May 27, 2018
  • Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Website
  • Municipality Trondheim
  • Place of service Trondheim
  • Jobbnorge ID 151522
  • Internal ID 2018/10944
  • Scope Fulltime
  • Duration Temporary

About applications

  • Applications on this job are registered in an electronic form on
  • You must complete: Standard CV
  • Please refer to where you first saw this job advertised!

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