PhD Fellow in “Mission Planning for Cooperative Unmanned Maritime Systems towards UXO Survey

Deadline: 23.06.2024

UiT The Arctic University of Norway

UiT The Arctic University of Norway is a multi-campus comprehensive university at the international forefront. Our vision is to be a driving force for developing the High North. The Northern Sami notion eallju, which means eagerness to work, sets the tone for this motive power at UiT. Along with students, staff and the wider community, we aim to utilise our location in Northern Norway and Sápmi, our broad and diverse research and study portfolio and interdisciplinary advantage to shape the future.

Our social mission is to provide research-based education of high quality, perform artistic development and carry out research of the highest international quality standards in the entire range from basic to applied. We will convey knowledge about disciplines and contribute to innovation. Our social mission unites UiT across various studies, research fields and large geographical distances. This demands good cooperation with trade and industry and civil society as well as with international partners. We will strengthen knowledge-based and sustainable development at a regional, national and international level.

Academic freedom and scientific and ethical principles form the basis for all UiT’s activities. Participation, co-determination, transparency and good processes will provide the decision-making basis we need to make wise and far-sighted priorities. Our students and staff will have the opportunity to develop their abilities and potential. Founded on academic integrity, we will be courageous, committed and generous in close contact with disciplines, people and contemporary developments.

We will demonstrate adaptability and seek good and purposeful utilisation of resources, so we are ready to meet the expectations and opportunities of the future. We will strengthen the quality and impact of our disciplines and core tasks through the following three strategic priority areas.

Faculty of Science and Technology

The position

A PhD position is available at the Department of Technology and Safety (ITS), Faculty of Science and Technology with the research group of Advanced Maritime Ship Operations.

The position is for a period of three years. The objective of the position is to complete research training to the level of a doctoral degree. Admission to the PhD programme is a prerequisite for employment, and the programme period starts on commencement of the position.

ITS is organised under the Faculty of Science and Technology and is located at three campuses: Tromsø, Bardufoss and Harstad. The department has approximately 90 employees and approximately 500 students. It offers undergraduate, master’s, and PhD degree programmes as well as research in the areas of nautical science, aviation, societal safety, environment, and international preparedness.

The advertised position has its workplace at Campus Tromsø. You must be able to start in the position in Tromsø within a reasonable time after receiving the offer.

The position’s field of research

Parts of our ocean floors are scattered with Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) that was discarded during past World Wars. These UXOs, having spent a significant amount of time submerged, are subjected to harsh environmental conditions and are often buried under layers of sand. Consequently, removing these potentially corroded UXOs is crucial for maintaining ocean health. The Advanced Maritime Ship Operations research group is focused on creating and demonstrating a Mission Planning Framework for Cooperative Unmanned Maritime Systems for such UXO surveys, which this PhD position is linked to.

The position is funded by the MMinE-SwEEPER Horizon Europe Project and UiT is a work package leader on ‘Smart and Cooperative Applications for Autonomous and Remotely Controlled Vehicles.’

MMinE-SwEEPER Project Summary

The MMinE-SwEEPER project Marine - Munition in Europe Solutions with Economic and Ecological Profits for Efficient Remediation will advance knowledge, capability and capacity in Europe for dealing with marine munition in the nonmilitary aspect of UXO-clearance. 21 partners from 7 EU and 2 associated countries bring experience and capabilities from the civil science community, military research, coast/border guards or EOD-services as well as industry and intergovernmental organizations. Jointly they will work in 8 technical work packages to a) advance automated munition detection, identification and data analyzing technologies and software, b) environmental monitoring of chemical contaminants, c) predictions of UXO-burial, contaminants spread and the state-of-corrosion, and will d) enable secure exchange of sensitive data. Three additional WPs will compile existing knowledge, learn about the legal responsibilities and technical approaches, assess remediation and mitigation measures and create training material for building European capacity. Two WPs will engage in an intense stakeholder dialog and dissemination/outreach activities by utilizing capacities already existing at HELCOM and JPIO. Outcomes with respect to specific technical advancements will include a) AI-supported detection of munition in hydroacoustic spatial mapping, b) detection of buried munition objects, c) AI-supported object identification in optical and acoustic cameras and d) implementing trained AI-models into Smart-AUVs and -USVs for adaptive and cooperative mission execution. All this will utilize secure data exchange possibilities through a demonstrator data platform that will be refined during the project. Industry partners see a great benefit in developing technologies that later can be advanced further to become commercial products. At the end of the project, most TRLs will be at 5 to 6, meaning they have been applied under real conditions and proved their applicability.

The utilization of unmanned vessels and underwater vehicles towards the UXO surveys is the main core of this PhD position. This position will be supported by the UiT Autonomous Ship Program infrastructure (www.uit.no/autoship), which includes a research vessel and onshore operation centre (OOC). It is expected that the PhD candidate will implement the proposed algorithms in the existing hardware and software platforms developed by the same research group:

The objective of the Ph.D. position is to develop:

  • Advancing real autonomy of underwater vehicles (AUVs) and unmanned/remotely controlled surface vessels (USVs) and testing real autonomy enabling decision-making.
  • Localization and mapping for unmanned vessels.
  • To make them smart and allow for adaptive missions of single or multiple vehicles with the following specific sub-objectives:
    • Make vehicles (AUVs and USVs) more autonomous/smarter by online data processing of MBES, magnetic, optical and acoustic cameras
    • Develop/adapt the adaptive mission planning framework for both vehicle types separately.
    • Define/adopt communication schemes between USV and AUV and develop the cooperative mission planning framework between both vehicles


For further information about the position, please contact:

Professor Lokukaluge Prasad Perera: 

or Associate Professor Bjørn-Morten Batalden:


This position requires a master’s degree or equivalent in Information Technology, Computer Science, Cybernetics, Physics, Mathematics, Statistics, Nautical Science, Maritime Technology, or a similar field with some sea-going experience and stronger software development experiences, and any other requirements. If you are near completion of your master’s degree, you may still apply.

Applicants must document fluency of both written and spoken in English and be able to work in an international environment. Nordic applicants can document their English capabilities by attaching their high school diploma. Working knowledge of Norwegian or a Scandinavian language is also beneficial.

It is preferable if the candidate has knowledge and experience within the following fields:

  • Vessel navigation and operational knowledge & experiences, including SAR operations
  • Autonomous/unmanned system development, including hardware knowledge and experience
  • Simultaneous localization and mapping in navigation
  • Open source artificial intelligence, machine learning, and statistical estimation methods, software tools and big-data frameworks
  • Estimation algorithms, e.g., Kalman, extended Kalman and particle filters
  • Programming languages such as e.g. Python, C++ and LABVIEW
  • Experience with Robot Operating System (ROS)

In the assessment, the emphasis is on the applicant's potential to complete a research education based on the master's thesis or equivalent, and any other scientific work. In addition, other experience of significance for the completion of the doctoral programme may be given consideration.

We will also emphasize motivation and personal suitability for the position.

We are looking for candidates who:

  • Have good collaboration skills
  • Have good communication and interaction with colleagues and students
  • Wants to contribute to a good working environment

As many people as possible should have the opportunity to undertake organized research training. If you already hold a PhD or have equivalent competence, we will not appoint you to this position.

Admission to the PhD programme 

For employment in the PhD position, you must be qualified for admission to the PhD programme at the National Joint PhD Program in Nautical Operations and participate in organized doctoral studies within the employment period.

Admission normally requires:

  • A bachelor's degree of 180 ECTS and a relevant master's degree, or an integrated master's degree.

UiT normally accepts higher education from countries that are part of the Lisbon Recognition Convention.

A weighted grade average for the master's degree equal to B or better is normally required for admission. The candidate must also have a grade of B or better on the master's thesis. Exceptions to these admission rules can be considered if the candidate can document particular suitability for a PhD education. A more detailed description of admission requirements can be found here

Applicants with a foreign education will be subjected to an evaluation of whether the educational background is equal to Norwegian higher education, following national guidelines from NOKUT. Depending on which country the education is from, one or two additional years of university education may be required to fulfil admission requirements, e.g. a 4-year bachelor's degree and a 2-year master's degree. 

If you are employed in the position, you will be provisionally admitted to the PhD programme. Application for final admission must be submitted no later than two months after taking up the position. 

Inclusion and diversity

UiT The Arctic University of Norway is working actively to promote equality, gender balance and diversity among employees and students, and to create an inclusive and safe working environment. We believe that inclusion and diversity are a strength, and we want employees with different competencies, professional experience, life experience and perspectives.

If you have a disability, a gap in your CV or immigrant background, we encourage you to tick the box for this in your application. If there are qualified applicants, we invite at least one in each group for an interview. If you get the job, we will adapt the working conditions if you need it. Apart from selecting the right candidates, we will only use the information for anonymous statistics.

We offer

  • Involvement in an interesting research project 
  • Good career opportunities 
  • A good academic environment with dedicated colleagues
  • Flexible working hours and a state collective pay agreement
  • Pension scheme through the state pension fund 
  • PhD Fellows are normally given a salary of 532 200 NOK/year with a 3% yearly increase

Norwegian health policy aims to ensure that everyone, irrespective of their personal finances and where they live, has access to good health and care services of equal standard. As an employee you will become member of the National Insurance Scheme which also include health care services.

More practical information about working and living in Norway can be found here.


Your application must include: 

  • Cover letter explaining your motivation and research interests
  • CV
  • Diploma for bachelor's and master's degree
  • Transcript of grades/academic record for bachelor's and master's degree
  • Explanation of the grading system for foreign education (Diploma Supplement if available)
  • Documentation of English proficiency
  • Documentation of proficiency in Norwegian (or a Scandinavian language) if applicable
  • 2-3 references with contact information
  • Master’s thesis, and any other academic works

Qualification with a master’s degree is required before commencement in the position. If you are near completion of your master’s degree, you may still apply and submit a draft version of the thesis and a statement from your supervisor or institution indicating when the degree will be obtained. You must still submit your transcript of grades for the master’s degree with your application.

All documentation to be considered must be in a Scandinavian language or English. Diplomas and transcripts must also be submitted in the original language, if not in English or Scandinavian. If English proficiency is not documented in the application, it must be documented before starting in the position. We only accept applications and documentation sent via Jobbnorge within the application deadline. 

General information 

The appointment is made in accordance with State regulations and guidelines at UiT. At our website, you will find more information for applicants

The engagement is to be made in accordance with 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.

After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

Remuneration for the position of PhD Fellow is in accordance with the State salary scale code 1017. A compulsory contribution of 2 % to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund will be deducted. You will become a member of the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund, which gives you many benefits in addition to a lifelong pension: You may be entitled to financial support if you become ill or disabled, your family may be entitled to financial support when you die, you become insured against occupational injury or occupational disease, and you can get good terms on a mortgage. Read more about your employee benefits at: spk.no.

A shorter period of appointment may be decided when the PhD Fellow has already completed parts of their research training programme or when the appointment is based on a previous qualifying position PhD Fellow, research assistant, or the like in such a way that the total time used for research training amounts to three years. 

We process personal data given in an application or CV in accordance with the Personal Data Act (Offentleglova). According to the Personal Data Act information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure. You will receive advance notification in the event of such publication, if you have requested non-disclosure. 

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