Researcher (fulltime) Explainable Artificial Intelligence for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

University of Twente is seeking a Researcher (fulltime) Explainable Artificial Intelligence for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Please check the vacancy for more information. 

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Functie omschrijving

In this era of big data and artificial intelligence (AI), spatial information collected through remote sensing or earth observation is essential for promoting sustainable development. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as RPAS or drones, can collect very detailed imagery and photogrammetric point clouds. Machine learning and deep learning methods (e.g. CNNs, FCNs) can then automatically process this data into spatial information. Indeed this combination of spatial detail provide by UAVs with automated data processing shows great promise to support sustainable development in Lower-Middle Income Countries (LMICs), particularly in applications such as automated building detection, slum mapping, and disaster risk management.

However, there is also an increasing societal concern regarding Ethical AI or AI for good. There are concerns on how to explain and interpret the “black-box” results so they can be trusted and better utilized for decision-making. UNESCO is drafting Recommendations on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and the European Commission is drafting a binding Regulation for Artificial Intelligence. These guidelines emphasize the importance of embedding explainability and interpretability into algorithms. And yet, despite research in the fields of FATML and XAI, there is little knowledge on best practices for explaining the results of algorithms in the geospatial domain.

To address this gap there is a vacant full-time position for a researcher in explainable AI. The successful applicant will integrate explainability techniques into deep learning workflows for classifying UAV imagery. The precise tasks under this theme will be discussed with the applicant and can be flexible to the applicant’s expertise and interest.

This position requires a background in deep learning, XAI, photogrammetry, geographical information science (GIS), earth observation and/or computer vision and must be confirmed by an excellent track record and proven programming skills.

You will collaborate closely with humanitarian and development organizations. The research output will be integrated with the ITC UAV Centre. This Centre centralizes UAV activities at ITC and focusses on the development of educational material, capacity building projects, and consultancy services related to drones and UAVs. It is the intention that your research delivers open source code packages to be reutilized in these projects and can be integrated into the educational material produced by the Centre.

You will:

  • integrate explainability techniques into deep learning workflows for classifying UAV imagery.
  • establish a research line on how to integrate explainable AI (XAI) into deep learning workflows for Earth Observation and UAV data in particular;
  • implement reliable and robust deep learning workflows;
  • develop and share open codes for reproducible research;
  • publish your results in scientific journals;
  • present results at appropriate meetings and conferences;
  • be involved in educational activities and designing educational material (optional);
  • contribute to national and international project development (optional).


You have:

  • A PhD in Photogrammetry, GIS, deep learning, computer science, or similar;
  • An excellent track of record in one or more of these domains;
  • Demonstrated programming skills in deep learning with open toolboxes;
  • An ability to collaborate in a multidisciplinary environment;
  • Excellent communication skills;
  • An excellent command of English;
  • An affinity with a multi-cultural education environment, excellent work ethics, and commitment to the job;
  • Experience in writing research project proposals an teaching experience in MSc courses or equivalent are a pre.


We offer a fulltime position in an inspiring and challenging multidisciplinary and international environment for two years. Salary and conditions will be in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement (CAO-NU) of the Dutch Universities.

  • Gross monthly salary between € 3.413,-- and € 4.670,-- depending on experience and qualifications (job profile Researcher 4);
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • Full status as an employee at the UT, including pension and health care benefits;
  • A total of 41 holiday days in case of full-time employment;
  • Professional and personal development programs;
  • Costs for moving to Enschede may be reimbursed.

Bedrijfsprofiel Universiteit Twente

The Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) provides international postgraduate education, research and project services in the field of geo-information science and earth observation. Our mission is capacity development, where we apply, share and facilitate the effective use of geo-information and earth observation knowledge and tools for tackling global wicked problems. Our purpose is to enable our many partners around the world to track and trace the impact – and the shifting causes and frontiers – of today’s global challenges. Our vision is of a world in which researchers, educators, and students collaborate across disciplinary and geographic divides with governmental and non-governmental organisations, institutes, businesses, and local populations to surmount today’s complex global challenges and to contribute to sustainable, fair, and digital societies.


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