The departments of Earth Systems Analysis (ESA) and Earth Observation Science (EOS) of the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC)/ University of Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands, have a vacancy for a

PhD Candidate "Supporting first responders in complex indoor/outdoor emergency scenarios with UAV-based mapping, using advanced computer vision and machine learning"

Your challenge

The project is part of a large-scale research project funded through the Horizon 2020 funding scheme of the European Commission, entitled "The first responder of the future: a Next Generation Integrated Toolkit for collaborative response, increasing protection and augmenting operational capacity" (INGENIOUS). The project is led by the Institute of Communication and Computer Systems (ICCS) from Greece, has 23 participating organisations from 15 European countries and is co-led by ITC. The overall aim of INGENIOUS is to develop a toolkit that makes the work of first responders safer and more effective. This will be achieved by developing smart, i.e. sensor-equipped uniforms, boots and helmet that sense both the well-being of the responder but also nearby environmental hazards, and novel ways to make this information available to the responder and incident commander through augmented reality. The project also has a strong focus on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and includes large fixed-wing devices for synoptic mapping as a basis for comprehensive scene and response asset mapping, but also different types of smaller devices. Their purpose is to provide, partly swarm-based, indoor localisation and mapping and tracking of responders in GNSS-denied settings, but also to allow exterior building mapping and 3D reconstruction to be propagated to immediate interior building parts, for which novel methods based on advanced photogrammetry and computer vision, but also machine learning, e.g. with CNN, need to be developed. The work builds on the FP7 project INACHUS (www.inachus.eu).

It will be your responsibility to address the following specific problems:

  • development of approaches for the use of UAV with different typologies (including very small/simple devices, but also drones with more/better sensors) to provide mapping of interior spaces, as well as tracking/localisation of first responders;
  • development of computer vision approaches to combine and integrate imagery from the UAV but also sensors such as the first responder's helmet camera;
  • work on scene understanding using RGB and possibly thermal images, including based on object detection and image segmentation;
  • experiment with the integration of information from additional sensors, such as ultrasound, thermal scanners or laser diodes to support mapping and navigation in dark or smoke-filled environments;
  • development of methods to forward-propagate accurate 3D mapping of building exteriors through openings (windows or collapsed walls) into GNESS-denied interior spaces, and including the use of active illumination;
  • collaborate effectively with other technical partners who will be building the drone platforms and communication infrastructure, and ensure that ITC's developments are appropriately tested and integrated into the INGENIOUS toolkit in different pilot experiments.

Your profile

We are looking for a creative and motivated candidate. You should:

  • have an MSc degree, obtained no more than 5 years ago, related to geoinformatics or robotics, with excellent expertise in computer vision and photogrammetry, and very good programming skills. Prior expertise in disaster risk management, as well as with UAV technology will be an asset.
  • be at ease engaging with scientist from different disciplines (engineering, robotics, ICT etc.) and cultures, to maximise the results from this research. This is given the large number of project partners, which leads to many research issues needing to be addressed by different experts, and dependencies with tasks and work packages of other partners.

The project is shared between ITC's ESA and EOS departments, and requires occasional work in the field (experiments in Spain and France are planned), and independent participation in project meetings, conferences or teleconferences may be necessary. Preparation of project deliverables (reports, etc.) is also necessary. As PhD Candidate some limited teaching in ITC courses may be required.

Our offer

We offer you an inspiring multidisciplinary and challenging international and academic environment. The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues in which internationalization is an important part of the strategic agenda.

You will be fulltime employed for four years. Salary and conditions will be in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement (CAO-NU) of the Dutch Universities.

  • A starting salary of € 2325 in the first year and a salary of € 2972 in the fourth year gross per month;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • Minimum of 41 holiday days in case of full-time employment;
  • Professional and personal development programs
  • Cost for moving to Enschede may be reimbursed

Information and application

For more information, you can contact Prof. Dr. Norman Kerle (n.kerle@utwente.nl) or Dr. Francesco Nex (f.nex@utwente.nl). You are also invited to visit our homepage.

Please submit your application before 1 May 2019 (choose "apply now" on the University of Twente vacancies page). Your application should contain a detailed Curriculum Vitae and a letter elaborating the motivation for the application.

The project will begin on 1 September 2019, and we would like you to start working as soon as possible to have time to prepare before the project starts. Job interviews (likely via Skype) will be held in the week of 13 May 2019.

Committee members

Prof. dr. N. Kerle (n.kerle@utwente.nl)
Dr. F.C. Nex (f.nex@utwente.nl)

posted: 05 April 2019     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.