PhD Position in Robust and Adaptable Control Systems for Effective Ship Automation

PhD Position in Robust and Adaptable Control Systems for Effective Ship Automation

Published Deadline Location
28 Feb 30 Mar Delft

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Job description

You as a PhD candidate will join a team of researchers within the context of the project "READINESS: Robust, Effective and Adaptable ship DesIgns for uNcErtain tranSition pathS", funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO). In this project, you will investigate how to handle the uncertainty in the energy and automation transition paths, in particular from an automatic control perspective. You will hereby be enabled to work within a consortium involving besides TU Delft, the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), TNO, SINTEF in Norway, and a number of maritime industrial partners (ship operators, ship designers).

With ships designed to operate at least thirty years, it is inevitable that during their operational life, multiple modifications will have to be performed aiming at replacing obsolete or broken on-board systems by sophisticated automation systems and information, communication, and sensor technology. These modifications will be essential towards autonomous shipping. A large number of cyber devices will be required for monitoring, remotely controlling and autonomously navigating ships, as well as sophisticated control and coordination algorithms. The cyber devices comprised multi-sensory systems, necessary to collect rich and redundant information of complex systems, as well as information and communication technology (ICT) to process, store and transfer data. The modernization of on-board systems comes at the cost of increased complexity. Ships can be considered as a large network of subsystems interconnected with physical interconnections (e.g. pipes, ducts, cables) or cyber interactions (e.g. communication network). The control of these complex ships necessitates multi-level architectures comprised of several heterogeneous systems.

In this project, you will investigate how to design ship control systems (e.g. high-level ship motion control, low-level control of the engine, the propeller and the rudder) that are: (a) scalable in case that a subsystem should be added considering the physical and cyber interconnections, (b) modular in case that an existing subsystem should be replaced, (c) fault tolerant in case that equipment components are malfunctioning, and (d) verifiable with respect to various ship and system modifications and malfunctions. The performance of the developed control systems will be analysed through theoretical analysis and extensive simulation of case studies provided by the project industrial partners. The PhD candidate will have the opportunity to benefit from an extended secondment at SINTEF enhancing his/her research skills ship control systems and autonomy, and his/her international experience and mobility.


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


We are seeking an enthusiastic researcher who has expertise and/or interest in one or more of the following areas:

  • Systems and automatic control, distributed control, multi-agent systems;
  • Model-based fault diagnosis, fault tolerant control, plug-and-play control;
  • Multi-sensory control systems, semantic knowledge modelling;
  • Ship control system design

You have obtained a MSc or an equivalent degree or expect to obtain a MSc very soon in the fields of Systems and Automatic Control, Artificial Intelligence, Ship Engineering, Electrical/Mechanical Engineering, Applied Mathematics or related fields. A good command of the English language and the ability to work in a team are mandatory.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.
As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit for more information.


Technische Universiteit Delft

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) is a multifaceted institution offering education and carrying out research in the technical sciences at an internationally recognised level. Education, research and design are strongly oriented towards applicability. TU Delft develops technologies for future generations, focusing on sustainability, safety and economic vitality. At TU Delft you will work in an environment where technical sciences and society converge. TU Delft comprises eight faculties, unique laboratories, research institutes and schools.


Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

The Faculty 3mE at Delft University of Technology trains committed engineering students, PhD candidates and post-doctoral researchers in groundbreaking scientific research in the fields of mechanical, maritime and materials engineering. 3mE is the epitome of a dynamic, innovative faculty, with a European scope that contributes demonstrable economic and social benefits.

The Department of Maritime and Transport Technology (M&TT) studies how to develop, design, build and operate marine, dredging and transport systems and their equipment. New generation transport and marine systems require the further development of the knowledge of the dynamics and the physical processes involved in transport, dredging and marine systems, the logistics of the systems and the interaction between the equipment and control systems.

The Transport Engineering and Logistics (TEL) section is part of the Department of Maritime and Transport Technology (M&TT) in the 3mE Faculty. The focus is on the development, design, construction and operation of (waterborne and land-based) transport systems and equipment. Education and research deals with transport-related topics that involve both technological and logistic issues. The combination of transport technology and logistics is considered one of the strong points within the department.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2325—€2972 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3mE20-17


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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