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PhD position(s) on Autonomous Drone Navigation and Grasping on Energized Overhead Cables

The Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Center at the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), invites applicants for a 3-year PhD position in the area of drone navigation and grasping on overhead energized cables. The proposed starting time is August 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter. Application deadline is 6. July, 2020.

The PhD project The PhD is expected to perform high-quality research as a part of the research and innovation projects “EU H2020 Drones4Safety” and “IFD Drones4Energy” that are partially funded by EU H2020 and Innovation Fund Denmark. They are innovative drone projects that contribute to the state of the art electrical and communication engineering technologies to build autonomous drone swarm systems that can charge themselves from overhead cables while inspecting the surrounding infrastructures.

The PhD research will be focusing on studying and developing an autonomous drone system that navigates and grasps on energized power line cables that have various diameters for railways and transmission lines. The PhD student(s) will be expected to contribute to the research and development activities that are running at the UAS Centre and be an active member in the project team. The student(s) will be mainly supervised by Associate Professor Emad Samuel Malki Ebeid*, and working closely with highly skilled researchers and engineers at SDU UAS Centre and the project partners.

The expected drone system will be integrating advanced onboard embedded sensing technologies such as mmWave, LiDARs, RGB-D/event cameras, magnetometers, etc. with high-performance computation units such as FPGAs and GPUs, and controlling the drone based on the fused data and the AI algorithms for cable identification and tracking. The developed drone system will be tested indoors and outdoors at the SDU UAS testing center, Odense.

Profile and requirements The successful candidates will be expected to have:
  • M.Sc. degree (equivalent to a Danish master's degree) in robotics, drones, control, mechatronics or electronics engineering or related fields.
  • Practical experience with FPGA/GPU, ROS, sensor fusion, drone control, and AI are mandatory.
  • Excellent programming skills (e.g., Python, C, C++, VHDL, MATLAB).

Additionally, the candidate(s) should have excellent writing skills and be able to work independently.

Research environment The successful candidate(s) for the position will be affiliated with the University of Southern Denmark, Faculty of Engineering, SDU UAS Centre.

University of Southern Denmark’s UAS Center brings together experts in robotics, computer vision, physics, software engineering, mechanical engineering, and cyber-physical systems to focus on research, education, innovation, and collaboration in the UAS domain.

Contact information
Further information is available from Emad Samuel Malki Ebeid, Associate Professor at SDU UAS Centre, University of Southern Denmark. E-mail

*Emad Samuel Malki Ebeid is the scientific project coordinator of the H2020 Drones4Safety and IFD Drones4Energy.

Conditions of employment
Applicants are required to have a master’s degree (equivalent to a Danish master's degree) at the time of enrollment and employment. Employment as a PhD fellow is a 3-year salaried position (start salary amounts to approx. 3.378,- EURO per month incl. supplements).

Employment of a PhD fellow can only happen after the Head of the PhD School has approved the candidate for admission to the PhD school. Employment and enrollment will cease without further notice at the end of the period.

A PhD fellow is not allowed to have any kind of sideline employment, while enrolled as PhD fellow at the faculty.

Employment is governed by the Protocol on PhD Research Fellows signed by the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. Please check links for more information on salary and taxation.

The successful candidate will be enrolled at SDU in accordance with Faculty regulations and the Danish Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme at the Universities (PhD order), read more here. 

The assessment process
Read about the Assessment and selection process.

Application procedure
The Faculty expects applicants to read the Faculty information for prospective PhD students and How to apply before applying.

The application must be in English and must include - the required forms must be found at the above mentioned Faculty website:
  • Completed TEK PhD application form for 5+3 applicants.
  • Motivation letter stating your specific interest, motivation and qualifications for the project in question (max. 2 pages). Upload in the field called “Project description”. 
  • Detailed Curriculum Vitae, describing research, publication, previous employment and teaching experience, computational skills and including personal contact information.
  • A brief research plan mentioned above featuring: title, aim/objective, background, expected contribution, proposed methodology, work plan, bibliography (maximum 3 pages including references). Upload in the field called “Other relevant material”.
  • Verified copies of the official bachelor diploma and master's diploma and transcripts of exams.
  • Completed TEK PhD form for calculation grade point average. Upload in one of the fields called “Publication”. 
  • An official document describing the grading scheme of the awarding universities (if not Danish). Upload in one of the fields called “Publication”. 
  • An official and verified written assessment of the thesis or dissertation project from the grade giving institution, if the thesis/examination project is evaluated by approved/passed. The statement must clearly state that the candidate has been among the top 30 pct. in the graduation class for the study programme.
  • A full list of publications stating the scientific publications on which the applicant wishes to rely. Please attach one pdf-file for each publication. 
  • Three names and e-mails of researchers who can provide an informed reference letter at short notice. Reference letters may also be included in the application. You're welcome to use the form for reference letter at the Faculty website.
The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

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