PhD Research Fellow in ICT - Artificial intelligence and Machine learning tools for UAV communications

This job offer has expired

    University of Agder (UiA)
    Computer scienceOther
    EngineeringCommunication engineering
    EngineeringControl engineering
    EngineeringSystems engineering
    TechnologyTelecommunications technology
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    01/08/2021 00:00 - Europe/Brussels
    Norway › Kristiansand S


About the position

A fixed-term 100% position is available at the University of Agder, Faculty of Engineering and Science as a PhD Research Fellow in ICT affiliated to the Department of Information and Communication Technology for a period of 3 years. The position is located at Campus Grimstad. The starting date is as soon as possible and is negotiable with the Faculty.

The successful applicant will become part of the Autonomous Systems Laboratory and conduct research within a team of 11 researchers working on artificial intelligence, machine learning, wireless communications, and control theory for autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This team spans three departments and the Center for Integrated Emergency Management of UiA, Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands), the University of Vigo (Spain), and Gradiant (Spain).  This creates an interdisciplinary and international collaboration environment designed to leverage the full potential of its members. Upon satisfactory performance, the student can perform research visits for a certain number of months to the aforementioned institutions.


While households in developed countries receive skyrocketing data rates through optical fibers and smartphones step into the 5G era, roughly one half of the world’s population cannot connect to the internet. Even beyond developing economies, bringing data connectivity to areas where it cannot currently reach would drastically benefit applications such as the internet-of-things, smart agriculture/forestry, wildfire suppression, search-and-rescue missions, paramedical interventions, and emergency response handling to name a few.

The proposed research addresses a set of technological challenges emerging in the quest for universal internet access. Specifically, it targets the development of autonomous navigation and self-organized communication approaches for networks of UAVs equipped with base stations to provide internet coverage by connecting mobile users on the ground with the terrestrial internet infrastructure, possibly in multiple hops through satellites or other UAVs. The autonomous navigation part involves algorithms for finding optimal positions in 3D space and relies on information about the spatial density of users and the electromagnetic propagation characteristics of the environment. This task will be addressed by means of machine learning, reinforcement learning, and automatic control tools. On the other hand, the self-organized wireless communication part involves techniques for efficiently communicating with the ground users with high data rates, fairness metrics, reliability, and privacy. The focus is on the physical and medium-access layers through the design of spatiotemporal precoding techniques and reporting protocols.

Most existing approaches rely on rough statistical characterizations of the propagation channel that capture average performance in certain prototypical scenarios. The proposed research leverages actual propagation information between the ground users, the UAVs, and the satellites by gathering measurements from these terminals and constructing maps via deep learning techniques. This is clearly expected to yield major performance improvements. Furthermore, existing navigation approaches fail when information from other UAVs or a central control center is not received. The proposed research aims at developing algorithms that accommodate variable degrees of information and therefore are robust to communication failures, a requirement for this technology to become a reality.

This position therefore involves theoretical research, computer simulation, and (possibly) measurement collection. Our vision is that learning is maximized by combining theory and practice in the right proportion.

A prerequisite for employment is that the candidate must be admitted to UiA’s PhD program of the Faculty of Engineering and Science, Specialisation in Information and Comunication Technology. The goal of the PhD program is to train students to become independent researchers. This means that students need to complete a coursework component of 30 ECTS intended to provide the necessary background for conducting research in their area. Additional self-study will also be required to fill possible background gaps or specialized knowledge requirements.

A close advising model is generally pursued at the beginning, whereas more independence is gradually granted to the student as she/he becomes more mature. Ideally, the student must be able to conduct research independently after graduation.

Part of the objectives of any PhD program is to develop the student’s communication skills, both oral and written. This is an indispensable requirement for conducting high-quality research nowadays. The PhD program and advising style will intensively promote and assist students in the development of these skills.

The selected applicant will be required to abide by the principles of our group, which state that our research must adhere to top ethical and quality standards, must be rigorous, and must contribute to the advancement of the state of the art. For this reason, we do not publish in low-end journals and conferences or work on problems with limited practical relevance. 

Required qualifications

  • Master’s degree in a relevant subject area. Candidates who are in the last stages of their master’s degree can also apply. Relevant areas include:
    • Wireless communications/signal processing
    • Control theory/autonomous systems
    • Machine learning/artificial intelligence
    • Aeronautics/avionics
  • English proficiency, both written and oral. International candidates that are not exempt from the English language requirements pursuant to the guidelines of the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT) must document this through one of the following tests with the stated results or better:
    • TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language with a minimum score of 600 for the Paperbased Test (PBT), or 92 for the Internet-based Test (iBT)
    • IELTS - International English Language Testing System, with the result of 6.5

It is possible to submit the results of these tests after the application deadline.

Further provisions relating to the positions as PhD Research Fellows can be found in the Regulations Concerning Terms and Conditions of Employment for the post of Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Research Fellow, Research Assistant and Resident.


Desired qualifications

  • A solid mathematical background.
  • Knowledge of and experience in wireless communications, signal processing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, control, autonomous systems, aeronautics, and/or avionics.
  • Strong programming skills, especially in Python, MATLAB, and/or C/C++.
  • Experience with UAVs.
  • Experience in emergency management.
  • Experience in measurement campaigns

Personal qualities

  • Enthusiasm for research
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Conscientiousness
  • Team-working skills
  • Critical and scientific thinking

We offer

  • Professional development in a large, exciting and socially influential organisation
  • A positive, inclusive and diverse working environment
  • Modern facilities and a comprehensive set of welfare offers  
  • Membership of the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund

More about working at UiA.

The position is remunerated according to the State Salary Scale, salary plan 17.515, code 1017 PhD Research Fellow, NOK 491 200 gross salary per year. A compulsory pension contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund is deducted from the pay according to current statutory provisions.

General information

UiA is an open and inclusive university. We believe that diversity enriches the workplace and makes us better. We, therefore, encourage qualified candidates to apply for the position independent of gender, age, cultural background, disability or an incomplete CV.

Women are strongly encouraged to apply for the position. 

The successful applicant will have rights and obligations in accordance with the current regulations for the position, and organisational changes and changes in the duties and responsibilities of the position must be expected. The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Appointment is made by the University of Agder’s Appointments Committee for Teaching and Research Positions.

Short-listed applicants will be invited for interview. With the applicant’s permission, UiA will also conduct a reference check before appointment. Read more about the employment process.

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act § 25 (2), applicants may request that they are not identified in the open list of applicants. The University, however, reserves the right to publish the names of applicants. Applicants will be advised of the University’s intention to exercise this right. 


The application and any necessary information about education and experience (including diplomas and certificates) are to be sent electronically. Use the link "Apply for this job".

The following documentation must be uploaded electronically:

  • Motivation letter.
  • Complete post-secondary transcript of all academic degrees. When attaching a non-Norwegian academic transcript that does not include a description of the grading system (e.g. maximum grade and minimum passing grade) used by the issuing institution, a (preferably official) description should also be attached. The description may simply contain a link to an official website where the grading system is explained.
  • Updated CV with the list of publications (if any).
  • Master dissertation (if finished).
  • Required English language certificates (see above). These can be emailed after the application deadline.

The applicant is fully responsible for submitting complete digital documentation before the closing date. All documentation must be available in English or in a Scandinavian language.

Application deadline: 01.08.21


For questions about the position:

For questions about the application process:

More Information

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Required Research Experiences

    Computer science
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Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
University of Agder (UiA)
Kristiansand S
Gimlemoen 25

EURAXESS offer ID: 660530
Posting organisation offer ID: 161101


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