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PhD Position within the Topic Autonomous Navigation and Control of Marine Surface Vessels

Times Higher Education
26 Jan 2023

Job Information

Research Field
Researcher Profile
Recognised Researcher (R2)
First Stage Researcher (R1)
Established Researcher (R3)
Application Deadline
Type of Contract
Job Status
Is the job funded through the EU Research Framework Programme?
Not funded by an EU programme
Is the Job related to staff position within a Research Infrastructure?

Offer Description

About the job

The Department of Ocean Operations and Civil Engineering (IHB) at NTNU has a vacancy for two PhD candidates within the topic autonomous navigation of marine surface vessels. 

The vision of the autonomous self-sailing ship has gained a lot of attention and may be considered to be one of the hottest topics within the maritime technology domain. It is a major challenge involving handling and coordinating on-board systems, performing safe and robust navigation and motion control, providing redundant energy and propulsion with a minimum of human interaction. Solving these issues in a practical and pragmatic way that caters for industrialization has an enormous potential. This unique research opportunity focuses on both autonomous navigation and control to enable a ship to perceive it surroundings through cameras, radar, and maps to plan and maintain a safe and collision free trajectory to go from port to port in an energy efficient manner while handling environmental forces and unforeseen events.

The project will collaborate closely with key industry players and has ambition to utilize full-scale closed-loop experiments utilizing state-of-the-art infrastructure. Examples of relevant topics include sensor fusion of cameras, radar and maps, situational awareness, trajectory planning with collision avoidance, automated docking, control design for the whole operational domain, control allocation, etc.

This project consists of 2 PhD positions with associated supervisors. The candidates will also be connected and cooperating with several research groups at NTNU.

Your immediate leader is Head of the department. 

Duties of the position

The candidates will develop novel methods and models for autonomous navigation and control of marine surface vessels and test these experimentally considering common constraints typically applied in industrial systems. A key part of this is to be engaged in building up laboratory facilities in order to carry out experimental work related to his/her research, as well as relevant systems for managing prototype and development software. The main goal of the PhD project is to develop new knowledge and methods that will be a cornerstone for complex autonomous functionality and validate these experimentally.

Also, the candidate will be expected to:

  • present findings at project meetings and national and international workshops and conferences
  • write scientific papers
  • participate actively in the maritime control community at NTNU

Required selection criteria

  • the PhD-position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is that you have completed a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) in Mechanical/Electrical/Construction/Civil Engineering, Architecture, Computer Science, Data Science with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale
  • strong capabilities in analytical thinking, mathematical and physics-based modelling
  • strong capabilities in either control design, sensor fusion, computer vision or machine learning
  • strong programming skills, preferably in C/C++, Python, and/or Matlab
  • knowledge on statistical techniques and being able to work with them in data assessment and reporting
  • you must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty's doctoral program (
  • if you have not completed your master’s degree yet, you must prove its imminent completion
  • written and oral fluency in English. 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: Minimum score of 90 points on the internet-based test, minimum score of 600 points on the paper-based test
    • - IELTS: Academic test with a minimum overall band score of 6.5
    • - CAE/CPE: grade B or A
    • - Pearsons Academic English test (PTE): The academic version with a minimum score of 62

The appointment is to be made in accordance with  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

  • documented capabilities in development of robotic systems
  • documented experience from relevant industry
  • experience with the Robot Operating System (ROS)
  • experience with scientific experimental work
  • knowledge of hydrodynamics and familiarity with different common maritime navigational systems
  • experience in software development and management

Personal characteristics

  • good communications skills
  • being proactive and creative
  • ability to work independently as well as being a good team-worker
  • ability to conduct research at an international level
  • keen interest in the wider context of own research, and an ability to engage in cross-disciplinary teams

Emphasis will be placed on personal and interpersonal qualities and motivation for the position. 

We offer

Salary and conditions

As a PhD candidate (code 1017) you are normally paid from gross NOK 501 200 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 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.

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 (ta stilling til dette)

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 (Departments to choose from the following): 

  • CV and certificates
  • motivation letter 
  • 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
  • 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
  • project proposal
  • name and contact information of three 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.

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.

General information

Working at NTNU

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. (tas bort hvis ikke aktuelt)

The city of Ålesund, with its population of 50 000, will provide you with plenty of opportunities to explore a region of Norway that is famous for its beautiful scenery with high mountains and blue fjords. Ålesund itself, with its Art Nouveau architecture, is by many considered to be the most beautiful city in Norway! The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world.

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 Houxiang Zhang (, Øivind K. Kjerstad (, and Guoyuan Li ( If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please Nelly Ann Longva ( 

If you think this looks interesting and in line with your qualifications, please submit your application electronically via 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: 26.02.2023

Ålesund campus oversikt Foto: Karl Otto Kristiansen/NTNU

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 26th February 2023
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Ålesund
Scope Fulltime (2 positions)
Duration Temporary
Place of service NTNU Ålesund/Campus Ålesund


Additional Information

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