PhD Research Fellow in Robot- and Data-Driven Fruit Production in Western Norway

Deadline: 10.04.2023

Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

With about 17,500 students, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences is one of the largest higher education institutions in Norway. A broad range of academic programmes are offered at Bachelor, Master and PhD levels, spread out on five campuses Førde, Sogndal, Bergen, Stord og Haugesund.

Our ambition is to build stronger and more solid academic and research environments that will interact nationally and internationally. The aim is to become a recognized actor on the international higher education arena. Increased international cooperation and engagement in externally funded projects will work towards this goal.

The Faculty of Engineering and Science has approximately 370 employees and approximately 3,260 students. The faculty has a broad educational offer at both bachelor's and master's level in engineering and science, as well as PhD education in computer technology. The Mohns Center for Innovation and Regional Development researches innovation and offers master's education in innovation and entrepreneurship. The diving education offers a one-year vocational school education.

The main part of the faculty's activities are in Haugesund, Bergen, Sogndal and Førde, but we also offer decentralized education in Kristiansund and Stord.

The faculty's activities are internationally based and take place in close collaboration with regional companies, clusters, health trusts and the public sector, including other institutions in the university and college sector. This applies to research, development, innovation and not least education with student projects at all levels.

Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL), has a vacancy for a research fellow (PhD position) in Robot- and Data-Driven Fruit Production in Western Norway: A System of Systems Perspective.

The Department of Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL), has a vacancy for a research fellow (PhD position) in Robot- and Data-Driven Fruit Production in Western Norway: A System of Systems Perspective. The Fellowship will be part of the “FutuRaPS: Future Raspberry Production System for Western Norway” project funded by the Norwegian Research Council.

The Research Fellow will be part of the HVL Robotics Lab, a research and innovation centre for robotics at HVL with strong industrial ties. The PhD research fellow will be part of the PhD programme in Computer Science: Software Engineering, Sensor Networks and Engineering Computing at the Faculty of Engineering and Science. The research programme in Computer Science currently includes 20 professors and associate professors, more than 30 PhD and post-doctoral fellows, and a large number of master’s students.

The position is for 3 years, with the possibility to extend the position into a 4-year position by further agreement where 25% of the work will be designated to teaching and other relevant work at HVL.

About the PhD project/ work tasks:

The research topic addressed in the PhD project will be systems engineering of future fruit and berry production in Western Norway, where novel robotic technologies, sensors, data science, production systems, and plant science will be employed. The full system-of-systems to be considered includes robotic solutions for reducing manual labour, polytunnel/glasshouse/freeland setup, fruit crops themselves, farm operation and machinery, data gathering/usage from the field, power needs and autonomy, market considerations, and the interaction of the new technology with the farmers.

The PhD candidate will work closely with stakeholders to scope variables of interest and requirements, and is expected to systematically approach the systems-of-systems perspective through

  • a review of the state of the art of relevant technologies in fruit production, robotics and data science.
  • in-depth interviews with stakeholders to gather information on potentials, pitfalls and requirements.
  • taking an iterative approach to sketching possible solutions and Concepts of Operation (CONOPS) for the problems faced by the stakeholders.
  • a quantitative approach to modelling parts of the system wherever feasible

While the FutuRaPS project is focused on raspberries, the PhD project will explore wider synergies across different growers/regions, different fruit crops (for example combined apple and berry production), and complementing technologies. The overall focus of the PhD-project will be on increasing environmental, social and financial sustainability for the small-scale farms typical in Western Norway. The PhD-project will in particular focus on how the introduction of robotic solutions and data-driven services can impact the sustainability of small-scale fruit and berry farming regionally, nationally and internationally.

Research environment

The PhD-candidate will be part of the HVL Robotics Lab, a research and innovation centre for robotics at HVL. HVL Robotics have access to state-of-the-art research facilities at Campus Førde, and a field lab for robotic- and data-driven raspberry production at Campus Sogndal/Leikanger.

The computer science research environment at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences has a strong focus on use-inspired and applied research, and on ICT as an enabling technology. The research environment has cooperation with many national and international research groups, and with national and regional industry partners. The research programme includes the research themes of software engineering, engineering computing, sensor networks and robotics, grid computing and physics data analysis, machine learning, and interactive and collaborative systems.

The PhD-candidate will work closely with a team of one PhD and one Post-Doctoral Fellow, and several staff members, associated with the “FutuRaPS: Future Raspberry Production System for Western Norway” project at HVL. The candidate will benefit from working together colleagues with expertise on the intersection of robotics and machine learning in the HVL Robotics Lab, and will also collaborate with industry and stakeholder partners in the project, including expertise in plant science, robotics, and big data.

The PhD-candidate will receive an annual stipend to be used for conference participation, research visits, and equipment. Workplace will be at campus Førde, or campus Sogndal by further agreement, but the candidate should expect to travel between campuses both for field work in Sogndal/Leikanger and lab-related work in Førde. The candidate is expected to spend 3-6 months abroad at an international academic institution during the research period.


The PhD research fellow must hold a master's degree in systems engineering or in a closely related technical field such as robotics, automotive or aerospace engineering, with a strong focus on computing. Candidates who have submitted a master’s thesis (but who has not yet been awarded a master’s degree) may also qualify for the position provided that the master’s degree is awarded within 4 weeks after the application deadline. Previous experience working with agricultural robots, field testing, plant science, and systems that involve human-machine interfaces, will be considered an advantage when candidates are ranked. Previous experience on systems engineering from academia or industry is a plus, given the applied nature of the overall project.

Candidates already holding a PhD within a related field are not eligible for this position. In addition to the required educational and scientific background, the following criteria will be evaluated: Relevant industry experience, competence and grades on completed course work, quality of the master's thesis (excellent grade, equivalent of grade B or better on the ECTS grading system), publications (if any), research and teaching experience, project management skills and experience. An outline of a research plan for the PhD project will also be taken into account when ranking candidates.

The candidate must be diligent and display the ability to work independently, supplemented with regular guidance, and is expected to carry out high-quality research and to publish the results in international workshops, conferences, and journals.

The candidate should be proficient in written and spoken English, and any formal training or proficiency in Norwegian or another Scandinavian language will be considered an advantage when candidates are ranked due to the close collaboration with Norwegian stakeholders in the project.

The PhD-candidate is expected to enrol in the PhD programme in Computer Science: Software Engineering, Sensor Networks and Engineering Computing at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, and should meet the formal admission requirements for admission into the PhD programme. An application for enrolment should first be submitted after an appointment is made and the supervisor(s) will help with this procedure. The candidate must be enrolled as a PhD student within 3 months from the start of the employment.

Application procedure:

Applications will be evaluated by an expert panel of three members.

Applicants are asked to submit their application and CV online. Please use the link “Apply for this job” (“Søk stillingen”).

The following documentation should be uploaded as an attachment to the online application:

  • Transcripts of bachelor’s and master’s degrees
  • CV, with a complete list of any project work in industry and any academic publications
  • Master thesis, or abstract of master thesis for candidates who have not yet submitted their master thesis within the application deadline
  • Diplomas and certificates
  • If any, copies of selected academic publications (no more than 5)
  • Optional: outline of research plan for the PhD project (no more than 2 pages)

Applicants should indicate which projects/publications or parts of projects/publications should be given special consideration in the evaluation. If the documents submitted are not in a Scandinavian language or in English, the applicants must submit certified translations of these. The transcripts must specify the topics, the course works, and the grades at the bachelor`s and master`s degree levels.

It is required that the applicant enclose a review from NOKUT whether the education (bachelor and master’s degree) is of a scope and level that corresponds to the level of a Norwegian master’s degree. Please see www.nokut.no/en for more information about NOKUT’s general recognition. This may take some time and we recommend you to apply as soon as you know you will apply for this position. If no answer within the application deadline, please enclose documentation from NOKUT that they have received your application.

Applicants should note that the evaluation will be based on the documentation submitted electronically via Jobbnorge within the submission deadline. The applicants are responsible for ensuring that all the documentation is submitted before the closing date. It is of utmost importance that all publications to be considered in the evaluation are uploaded as an attachment with the application, since these are sent electronically to the expert panel. Applications cannot be sent by e-mail or to individuals at HVL.


  • Good occupational pension, insurance and loan schemes from The Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
  • Exciting academic environment with the possibility of competence enhancement and development
  • Opportunities for training within the working hours

Initial salaries will be offered at grade 54 (code 1017) in the Civil Service pay grade table scale.

There is a compulsory 2 % deduction to the pension fund (see http://www.spk.no for more information). The successful applicant must comply with the guidelines that apply to the position at any time.

General information:

The appointment will be made in accordance with the regulations for State employees Law in Norway ("Lov om statens ansatte)". Organizational changes and changes in the duties and responsibilities associated with the position must be expected.

State employment shall reflect the multiplicity of the population at large to the highest possible degree. Western Norway University of Applied Sciences Bergen has therefore adopted a personnel policy objective to ensure that we achieve a balanced age and gender composition and the recruitment of persons of various ethnic backgrounds.

Information about the applicant may be made public even though the applicant has requested not to be named in the list of applicants. The applicant will be notified if his/her request is not respected.

Short-listed applicants will be called in for an interview.

Employed on condition that you are granted a work and residence permit.


1) Associate Professor Erik Kyrkjebø phone: +47 57 67 62 85 e-mail: [email protected]

2) Professor Håvard Helstrup Coordinator of PhD Programme on Computer Science phone: +47 55 58 75 61 e-mail: [email protected]

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