Recruitment is re-opened!

We reannounce the call for the Doctoral Candidate project 5 "Calm Drones" under Theme 2.

We are looking for a Doctoral Candidate to join the “WildDrone – Autonomous Drones for Nature Conservation Missions” Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral Network. Applicants for the other Doctoral Candidate projects announced in January are currently under evaluation.

The open position is for DC5 Calm Drones: VTOL Drone Noise Profile Optimization for its Impact on Animal Behaviour. Supervisors are Avy and University of Southern Denmark. 

Find more information on this page and on Avy’s website where you also apply.

The overarching aim of WildDrone is to revolutionize wildlife conservation practices by integrating the fields of aerial robotics, computer vision, and wildlife ecology, using autonomous drone technology as a unifying platform. Expanding on the existing doctoral programs, the candidates will form an interdisciplinary network of researchers working across European and African countries.

Each of the candidates will conduct research based in one of the three main subject areas of WildDrone. The candidates will work together within the WildDrone network and engage in multi-disciplinary training-by-research to develop technology in close collaboration with end-users.

The WildDrone consortium encompasses 20 partners across 10 countries in Europe, Africa and North America united in the common goal of benefiting wildlife. The Doctoral Candidates will be spread throughout 7 European countries working in both academic institutions and industrial companies:

In addition to these partners, the network includes University of Konstanz (Germany) Kenyatta University (Kenya), Ol Pejeta (wildlife reserve, Kenya), National Park Wadden Sea (wildlife reserve, Denmark), Kuzikus African Safaris (wildlife reserve, Namibia), KBR – an international high-technology company, Danish EPA environmental agency, BBC news outlet, WWF international wildlife foundation, and Danish Agriculture & Food Council, that have teamed up to establish a coordinated effort on researcher training in digital nature conservation.

All candidates will be expected to

  • Work in a multidisciplinary team in an international environment.
  • Have a deep interest in research and science.
  • Possess outstanding research potential, as demonstrated by scientific accomplishments (e.g., quality of thesis, code repositories, conference presentations, outreach activities or publications).
  • Have excellent communication skills in English, verbally as well as in scientific writing.
  • Be willing to undertake international secondments, internships, and travels.

Please note that these expectations provide a framework for the role and should not be regarded as a definitive list. Other reasonable expectations and duties may be required consistent with the specific PhD project itself. 

Additional information

We are searching for a diverse group of candidates with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisations and be offered the same career opportunities. We especially welcome applicants from populations that are disproportionately underrepresented in the research fields of aerial robotics, computer vision, or wildlife ecology, and related industries, including applicants from the African continent, where many planned research activities will take place. The only limit is the MSCN mobility rule, dependent on the country of the hosting institution – ‘No residence or main activity (work, studies etc.) in the country of the recruiting beneficiary for more than 12 months in the 36 months before their recruitment date’.

We offer

  • Salary consisting of living allowance (EUR 3400*), mobility allowance (EUR 600), family allowance (if applicable, EUR 660). Long-term leave allowance (EUR 4000) and special needs allowance are offered if applicable.
  • Working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance.

*A country correction coefficient applies to the living allowance in order to ensure equal treatment and purchasing power parity for all researchers. Salary rules apply to the doctoral candidates hosted in the European Union. Separate salary rules are applicable for doctoral candidates hosted in United Kingdom and Switzerland. Find more information on salary here.

The guaranteed PhD funding is for 36 months (i.e., EC funding, additional funding is possible, depending on the local Supervisor, and in accordance with the regular PhD time in the country of origin). In addition to their individual scientific projects, all fellows will benefit from further continuing education, which includes internships and secondments, a variety of training modules as well as transferable skills acquired through a unique immersive learning environment.

Do you want to apply?

You can apply at the Avy website

The Recruitment Procedure

The recruitment procedure will be divided into 2 stages. In the first stage, recruitment committees for the subject area will evaluate candidate qualifications based on the application materials. All candidates will be informed whether they advance to stage 2. Project supervisors will evaluate the remaining candidates for the project, and the top candidates will be invited for online interviews. References for the top candidates will be contacted at this stage. Interviews are tentatively expected to be held in June 2023.

Doctoral Candidate Description

DC5 – Calm drones

We are looking for a highly motivated researcher that gets excited by an interdisciplinary project on developing autonomous drone technology for wildlife conservation. Are you interested in developing techniques for the safe and unobtrusive use of drones to observe animals undetected? Then we invite you to apply for this PhD position in our team!

Drones with sound profiles and flight paths that support both non-interference with animal behaviors as well as transparency of operation are novel and ethically relevant. They will allow for high-quality observations of animals in-situ, and actively reduce risks of drone misuse. This will be accomplished by modifying the propellers and other elements of the drone’s power system while taking advantage of the differing hearing characteristics of the species to be observed.

The doctoral candidate will research noise profiles of propellors. There will be a focus on characterization of objective (i.e., loudness, frequency, harmonics) and subjective/psychoacoustic interpretation (i.e., annoyance, behavior change) resulting from noise of relevant drones on humans and animal species of interest. Acoustic tests will characterize the noise signature of various drone configurations at different operating conditions. The tests will be performed in the National Aeroacoustics Facility at the University of Bristol. The energy-frequency content and directivity of each drone system will be fully investigated and compared against available audiograms for wildlife species. The doctoral candidate will make use or develop a range of bespoke noise mitigation methods to reduce or alter the noise signature of the drone. This will include changes to the propeller size, number and type of blades, blade tip and trailing edge shapes, use of absorbing or reflective surfaces, etc. The doctoral candidate will conduct drone exposure experiments with captive animals to assess their ability to detect novel drone systems and their strength of responses.

Expected Results: Innovations in the design of drone propellers and power systems which minimize interference with animal behaviors but still provide transparency of operation to humans. A database of drone noise profiles, guidelines for designing drones for calmness, and a testing standard for flying drones near animals. The project will also develop and examine a range of bespoke passive or semi-active noise mitigation methods, depending on the hearing range and sensitivity of the species of interest, to reduce or alter the noise signature of the drones and will test these through experimental exposure of drone systems to captive animals.


We Ask

  • MSc degree in physics, engineering or a related field.
  • Team player.
  • Good organizational and communication skills.
  • Excellent command of English (C1 level).


We Offer

  • Flexible working conditions.
  • A job in a company determined to have a positive impact on the future.
  • Experience the excitement, chaos, freedom and rapid growth of a tech startup from within… it will be the ride of your life!
  • A warm atmosphere with regular drinks and occasional celebrations.
  • A work culture based on freedom & trust.
  • An awesome office in Amsterdam with a maker space, sauna, disco-toilet, and delicious lunches.

Project Facts:

Focus: Make use or develop a range of bespoke noise mitigation methods to reduce or alter the noise signature of the drone. The PhD student will conduct drone exposure experiments with captive animals to assess their ability to detect novel drone systems and their strength of responses.

Planned Secondments: University of Southern Denmark (Denmark); initial methodology and experiments. University of Bristol (UK); anechoic wind tunnel experiments and captive animals’ assessment with BZS (twice).

Principal Supervisor: Matthijs Damen, AVY

Academic Supervisors: Professor Ulrik Pagh Schultz Lundquist, University of Southern Denmark, Associate Professor Dylan Cawthorne, University of Southern Denmark.

Main hosting site: AVY BV (Netherlands), the Ph.D. will be awarded by University of Southern Denmark (Denmark)

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