PhD Position Collaborative Control for Autonomous Ships in Multi-Vessel Environments

Research / Academic

Over the last decade autonomous shipping has started to receive significant attention in view of improving efficiency challenges in the transport domain. Nowadays research places many efforts on the technological development and improvement of manoeuvring and intelligent control for individual autonomous ships. At the same time, it is expected that the future autonomous ships will not be operating only by themselves, but will be navigating in (sometimes crowded) multi-vessel environments, encountering numerous other waterway users and infrastructure operators (e.g. in large port areas such as the Port of Rotterdam, or in inner-city waterway networks as found in the city of Amsterdam). Moving towards this future situations in which both autonomous and human-operated ships are operating on and around waterways, the investigation and integration of new ways of interaction between autonomous ships and their environments in control methods, and being able to provide insight in guarantees on transport safety and efficiency in a society with sustainability considerations, become more and more important.
As PhD researcher in this project, you will focus on investigating the potential of vessel to vessel (v2v) and vessel to infrastructure (v2i) interactions in view of addressing these challenges at an operational level. You will have the opportunity to investigate smart operational control strategies for collaborative autonomous shipping, integrating navigation rules, information exchange and algorithms for dealing with the uncertainties. Here, concepts such as (distributed) model predictive control are in particular pursued as the central concept to advance the state of the art in performance of multi-vessel systems and surrounding logistics. 
This PhD position will contribute to the fundamental research, while assessing the potential of investigated methods using high-fidelity simulations and experimental validation with the autonomous vessel fleet of the Researchlab of Autonomous Shipping (RAS, at TU Delft. The research will be carried out in close cooperation with academic and industrial partners of several large European research projects (such as NOVIMOVE, AVATAR, and AutoBarge).


Candidate for this challenging project has an MSc degree and background in systems and control engineering, operations research, maritime technology, autonomous systems, or related areas. Familiarity and experience with data acquisition and communication, robotics, digital twins and/or machine learning are a plus. Good communication and writing skills in English and the ability to collaborate with research institutes are important.
Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Salary Benefits:

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.
Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2443 per month in the first year to € 3122 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.
The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

Work Hours:

38 - 40 hours per week


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