PhD Positions

PhD student: Drone Detect and Avoid for Extreme Traffic Densities

  • From Dec '18 until Nov '22
Requirements: MSc in Aerospace Engineering or comparable, thorough knowledge of ATM, excellent programming (C++, Python,..), Proficient English (spoken&written)

Unmanned flying vehicles, or drones, are increasingly being seen as a suitable platform for a wide range of applications, from inspecting infrastructure and aerial photography, to parcel delivery, search and rescue, and many other applications. Unlike current-day manned aviation, many of these envisioned drone applications would involve operation in heavily-constrained urban airspace, and when successful, at extreme traffic densities, compared to current operations.

Currently, several large research efforts are formalizing the procedures and services that will be required for these operations (e.g., U-Space in Europe, UTM in the US). A critical, but currently underexposed aspect in these concepts of operations is the development of a robust Detect and Avoid (D&A) system that is able to function at extreme traffic densities, for a wide mix of different vehicle types. As the extreme densities rule out a fully centralized system, decentralized D&A will be required, and coordination between vehicles (implicit or explicit) will be imperative. Previous research has shown that this becomes increasingly problematic once more than two vehicles are involved. As part of your PhD research, you will therefore design and test decentralized resolution algorithms to solve this problem. Methods you will investigate include, among others, global optimization methods adapted to local resolution, and reinforcement learning techniques, as well as various levels of intent communication. You will publish your results in leading, peer-reviewed journals. These publications will be combined in your final dissertation.

As part of your PhD, you will also work in an international (EU-funded) consortium, on airworthiness standards for drones in Europe. Supported by the renowned MAV laboratory of TU Delft this will give you the opportunity to cooperate with major players in drone research and industry and build an extensive network already during your PhD.

The PhD position is funded by the H2020 AW-DRONES project. You will be working in an international consortium, which means that good proficiency in the English language (spoken and written) is required. Furthermore, the position requires an MSc in Aerospace Engineering, Aeronautics or a comparable degree, thorough knowledge of air traffic management, flight operations, as well as excellent programming (C++, Python, …) and mathematical skills. Preferably you also already have experience in writing scientific reports and papers.

Interested? Look here for information on how to apply.

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C&S aims to be a leading research group in the integration, development and testing of new theories on control, autonomous and cognitive systems (with and without human elements), while addressing industrial and societal needs.


Section Control & Simulation
Department Control & Operations
Faculty of Aerospace Engineering
Delft University of Technology

Kluyverweg 1
2629 HS, Delft

+31 (0)15 27 89471