PhD Position on Machine-learning-based Multi-sensor Detection and Classification for Cleaning Coastal Waters using Autonomous Vehicles 

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Delft, Netherlands 🇳🇱

FACULTY/DEPARTMENT: Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering




SALARY: € 2.541,00 – € 3.247,00



Job description

In this PhD project we will develop novel machine-learning-based approaches for detection and classification in the context of autonomous unmanned underwater, surface, and aerial vehicles for locating, detecting, and collecting unwanted objects from coastal waters and seabeds.

The PhD project is part of the Horizon Europe project SeaClear 2.0 (Scalable full-cycle marine litter remediation in the Mediterranean: Robotic and participatory solutions). This project is a follow-up project of the European SeaClear project (see also

The goal of SeaClear and SeaClear 2.0 is to develop a collaborative, heterogeneous multi-robot solution engaged in collecting marine waste using autonomous underwater, surface, and aerial vehicles for cost-effective marine litter detection and collection. This goal will be reached by bringing together state-of-the-art technologies from the fields of machine learning, sensing, manipulation, aerial and marine technologies and by building a stable and reliable system capable of tackling a highly relevant social, economic and environmental issue, namely ocean pollution.

In the PhD project we will focus on two main topics: (1) the development of multi-sensor detection, identification, and classification methods for underwater litter using the various sensors on-board of the underwater, surface, and aerial vehicles, and (2) integration of model-based and data-driven approaches for multi-sensor data fusion and detection classification of underwater litter. For topic (1) deep learning and multi-sensor fusion will be the primary solution directions, while for topic (2) we will extend these with data fusion and model-based decision making approach.


We are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree in systems and control, applied mathematics, computer science, electrical engineering, or a related field, and with a strong background or interest in systems & control and/or machine learning. The candidate is expected to work on the boundary of several research domains. 

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

The Faculty of 3mE carries out pioneering research, leading to new fundamental insights and challenging applications in the field of mechanical engineering. From large-scale energy storage, medical instruments, control technology and robotics to smart materials, nanoscale structures and autonomous ships. The foundations and results of this research are reflected in outstanding, contemporary education, inspiring students and PhD candidates to become socially engaged and responsible engineers and scientists. The faculty of 3mE is a dynamic and innovative faculty with an international scope and high-tech lab facilities. Research and education focus on the design, manufacture, application and modification of products, materials, processes and mechanical devices, contributing to the development and growth of a sustainable society, as well as prosperity and welfare.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering. Do you want to experience working at our faculty? These videos will introduce you to some of our researchers and their work.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Bart De Schutter,

Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply by March 1, 2023, via the application button and upload your letter of application along with a detailed curriculum vitae, a motivation why the proposed research topic interests you, a list of publications (if applicable), the abstract and/or summary of your MSc thesis, your BSc and MSc course program and the corresponding marks, names and addresses of two to three reference persons, and all other information that might be relevant to your application. 

For information about the application procedure, please contact Irina Bruckner, HR advisor,

Please note:

A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.

You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.

Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.   





IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development