PhD position on model-, simulation-, and data-based control of crane-based robotic operations

SDU Robotics, part of the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute, University of Southern Denmark (SDU), invites applications for a fully funded PhD position in the area of model- and simulation-based analysis and control  of a novel robotic production system for the energy sector. The position will be vacant from 1 May 2023, or as soon as possible thereafter, and is for a 3-year period. Main work location is Odense/ Denmark at SDU and Odense Havn (Odense Port).

****** If you happen to attend the European Robotics Forum (ERF), taking place 14-16 March 2023 in Odense, make sure to visit our joint LSP exhibit with Güdel on floor level 1 – and contact Professor Christian Schlette via email ( to meet and to learn more about the position. ******

Research environment

The candidate will be part of the project Mobile Robot Crane Platform funded by EUDP. The project takes place in the context of SDU’s newly established center for Large Structure Production (LSP). LSP’s central ambition is to provide a physical “go-to” lab for companies in the sectors maritime, construction and energy to carry out research, development and testing of novel solutions in the production of large structures, such as buildings, ships and offshore platforms.

The project Mobile Robot Crane Platform is integrated in the unit SDU Robotics that is at the core of the Odense Robotics Cluster involving 130+ startups and established companies in robotics. We are specialized in robot solutions involving modelling, simulation and control of advanced robot technologies (systems and services) for industrial, welfare and medical applications.

Our group is involved in a variety of national and European projects and features a strong network of academic and industrial partners. We solve challenging research problems derived from real-life challenges by implementing novel robot solutions. In particular, the candidate will contribute to developing Digital Twin-based solutions for analyzing, simulating and programming robotic equipment together with our partner Inrotech.

We value teamwork, professional diligence, enthusiasm for robotics and the drive to adopt new skills and extended responsibilities. We offer an open, international team, with flexible work organization and support of individual development.

Job description

The overall objective of the project is to design, develop and control a mobile robot crane platform that en-ables the automation of accurate and precise production processes at heights of 15-20 meters, as they occur specifically in the energy sector.

The main activities in the project will be industrial R&D tasks carried out by engineers. These tasks will focus on implementing the hardware and software of the integrated system and operating it in applications. However, a crucial PhD research activity is required to enable the intended control of the integrated system on a fundamental level, namely the development of an overarching control of the integrated system.

The candidate will design and implement methods to i) allow for a 3D simulation of the system kinematic and dynamic behavior based on a mathematical model and a geometric model of the system, ii) generate and control ideal motions of robot arm, crane arm and mobile platform based on the 3D simulation, iii) generate control signals from the output of the motion controller as input to the given hardware controllers of the integrated system.

Profile and requirements

The candidate is expected to have most of the following qualifications:

  • Master’s degree in engineering (equivalent to a Danish master’s degree), preferably supported by first academic publications
  • Documented experience with dynamic resp. physics simulations (preferably in MuJoCo)
  • Documented knowledge in industrial robotics and various types of simulation
  • Strong mathematics skills and practical knowledge in 3D modelling
  • Strong programming skills (particularly in C/C++ and Python)
  • Ability to work independently as part of an agile team, with a strong sense of responsibility
  • Willingness to engage in application-oriented R&D, by closely interacting with company staff

Furthermore, the successful candidate is expected to have excellent knowledge of English (written and spoken).

Contact information

Have a look at to meet our team.

For further information, please contact Professor Christian Schlette via email ( or on LinkedIn (

If you experience technical problems you must contact

Conditions of employment

Applicants are required to have a master’s degree (equivalent to a Danish master’s degree) at the time of enrollment and employment. Employment as a PhD fellow is a 3-year salaried position (start salary amounts to approx. 3.748 EUR per month incl. supplements).

Employment of a PhD fellow can only happen after the Head of the PhD School has approved the candidate for admission to the PhD school. Employment and enrollment will cease without further notice at the end of the period.

A PhD fellow is not allowed to have any kind of sideline employment, while enrolled as PhD fellow at the faculty.

Employment is governed by the Protocol on PhD Research Fellows signed by the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. Please check links for more information on salary and taxation.

The successful candidate will be enrolled at SDU in accordance with Faculty regulations and the Danish Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme at the Universities (PhD order), read more here.

The assessment process

Read about the assessment and selection process. Shortlisting, interview, and test may be part of the assessment process.

Applications procedure

The Faculty expects applicants to read the Faculty information for prospective PhD students and the SDU information on How to apply before applying.

The application deadline is 31 March 2023.

The application must be in English and must include the following (the required forms must be found at the Faculty website):

  • Completed TEK PhD application form for 5+3 applicants. Find the form at the Faculty website.
  • Motivation letter stating your specific interest, motivation and qualifications for the project in question (max. 2 pages). Upload in the field called “Project description”.
  • Detailed Curriculum Vitae including personal contact information, research and teaching experience, list of publications (if any), and a description of your computational skills.
  • In case you have any publications, a maximum of 2 examples of relevant papers. Please attach one pdf-file for each publication.
  • Verified copies of the official bachelor diploma and master’s diploma and transcripts of exams, both the original documents and in professional English translation.
  • Completed TEK PhD form for calculation grade point average. Find the form at the Faculty website. Upload in one of the fields called “Publication”.
  • An official document describing the grading scheme of the awarding universities (if not Danish). Upload in one of the fields called “Publication”.
  • An official and verified written assessment of the thesis or dissertation project from the grade giving institution, if the thesis/examination project is evaluated by approved/passed. The statement must clearly state that the candidate has been among the top 30 pct. in the graduation class for the study programme.
  • References (names and emails) and/or reference letters may also be included. You’re welcome to use the form for reference letter at the Faculty website.

The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

Further information for international applicants about entering and working in Denmark.

Further information about The Faculty of Engineering.

Deadline: 2023-03-31 at 23:59
Unit: Faculty of Engineering

Read the job description at the university homepage or apply.

Post expires on Friday March 31st, 2023