PhD Position Communication and Sensing with Drones using Light and AI

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

2 Mar 2024
Job Information

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)
Research Field
Researcher Profile
First Stage Researcher (R1)
Application Deadline
30 Apr 2024 – 21:59 (UTC)
Type of Contract
Job Status
Not Applicable
Hours Per Week
Is the job funded through the EU Research Framework Programme?
Not funded by an EU programme
Is the Job related to staff position within a Research Infrastructure?

Offer Description

Your research goal will be to create a new system for drone navigation and communication using the light bulbs in our houses and building, and cities.

Drones are not fully trusted yet. Their reliance on radios and cameras for navigation raises safety and privacy concerns. These systems can fail, causing accidents, or be misused for unconsented recordings.

We propose a radically new infrastructure where drones obtain communication and navigation solely from the light bulbs in our streets, roads and buildings. Modulated light intensity will allow drones to operate outdoors and indoors without the need for radios, GPS or cameras.

Similar to the way old lighthouses provided navigational aid to maritime pilots, this project aims at transforming the light bulbs in our roads, streets and buildings into a modern version of those lighthouses. Light bulbs will play the role of “air traffic control towers”, modulating their light intensities to provide communication and navigation services to drones.

To achieve this goal, we will exploit advances in visible light communication (VLC), an emerging wireless technology that allows transmitting information using any type of LED. The core idea behind VLC is similar to communicating with somebody by turning a flashlight on and off. The modulation, however, is done at such high speeds that humans will only see a normal light on (no flickering effects), while drones will see data coming at high data rates.

This novel approach will transform our vast lighting infrastructure into the backbone for drone operation.

The PhD research will include a holistic approach, including the design of the embedded system, including drones, and the design of communication and sensing methods.

Specific Requirements

The applicant should have a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Computer Science, or a closely related field. A solid knowledge of embedded systems is required.

The position demands a strong background to build new prototypes and perform experimental work. The successful applicant should have good English language proficiency and a team player personality.

Prior knowledge on drones is a plus but not required.

At the time of recruitment, the candidate must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months over the past 3 years.

For more information on the project see:

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 .

Additional Information

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 € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 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 a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service . This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

Selection process

Applicants need to submit the following documents in a single PDF:

  • [Optional] Motivation letter.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Bachelor’s and Master’s transcripts (list of courses and grades).
  • The curriculum vitae should include:

  • The names and contact information of at least two references, but no more than three.
  • List of publications (if any).
  • The national rank of the attended universities. Provide a link supporting the provided rank.
  • The applicant’s rank in the graduating class (if avaliable). For example: Xth out of Y students, or top x%. Provide a document validating the class rank (if available).
  • The planned starting date of the position is March 2024 but no later than August 2024.

    Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before April 30, 2024.

    CV reviews are done on an ongoing basis. If we find a suitable candidate then the vacancy will be closed

    • 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.
    • Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.

    Additional comments

    For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. Marco Zuniga ([email protected] ).

    Website for additional job details

    Work Location(s)

    Number of offers available
    Delft University of Technology
    Postal Code
    2628 CD
    Mekelweg 2

    Where to apply



    Mekelweg 2
    Postal Code
    2628 CD


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