PhD Position F/M Control of a sailing boat: from virtual to real, and back

March 11, 2023
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
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2023-05845 - PhD Position F/M Control of a sailing boat: from virtual to real, and back

Contract type : Fixed-term contract

Level of qualifications required : Graduate degree or equivalent

Fonction : PhD Position

Level of experience : Up to 3 years

About the research centre or Inria department

The Inria Lille - Nord Europe Research Centre was founded in 2008 and employs a staff of 360, including 300 scientists working in sixteen research teams. Recognised for its outstanding contribution to the socio-economic development of the Hauts-De-France région, the Inria Lille - Nord Europe Research Centre undertakes research in the field of computer science in collaboration with a range of academic, institutional and industrial partners.

The strategy of the Centre is to develop an internationally renowned centre of excellence with a significant impact on the City of Lille and its surrounding area. It works to achieve this by pursuing a range of ambitious research projects in such fields of computer science as the intelligence of data and adaptive software systems. Building on the synergies between research and industry, Inria is a major contributor to skills and technology transfer in the field of computer science.


As part of an existing collaboration between Scool and Prof. Esteban Clu, UFF Brazil, we are working on the application of reinforcement learning to the control of a sailing boat. We work on a digital twin of a sailing boat and on a real sailing boat.

A simulation of a rather generic sailing boat has been made, reaching a certain level of realism. Likewise, early works have made reinforcement learning able to control this simulation.

The job environment is made of Scool, a research group having a strong expertise on reinforcement learning, and Prof. Clua who has designed and implemented a real autonomous sailing boat.


The Ph.D. student will continue this work, following the line of work already performed. This work will be continued in close relation with Philippe Preux in Scool, and Esteban Clua in Brazil. We expect that a publication may be submitted as an outcome of this contract. We also expect that this work will be continued further in the future by other researchers.

Main activities

Main activities (5 maximum) :

  • further develop the simulator of water and winds and their interaction with a virtual sailing boat

  • further investigate the use of reinforcement learning to control this virtual sailing boat

  • investigate how transfer learning may be used to transfer from silico to real sailing boat
  • investigate how transfer learning may be used to transfer upon a series of different virtual sailing boats.
  • Additional activities (3 maximum) :

  • report orally on activities
  • write reports
  • Skills

    Technical skills and level required : gazebo, ocean and wind simulation, sailing boat simulation, deep reinforcement learning.

    Languages : English. Portugese is a plus.

    Relational skills : should be very good to interact with collaborators in Scool and with Prof. Clua's team in Brazil.

    Other valued appreciated : hard dedicated worker.

    Benefits package
  • Subsidized meals
  • Partial reimbursement of public transport costs
  • Leave: 7 weeks of annual leave + 10 extra days off due to RTT (statutory reduction in working hours) + possibility of exceptional leave (sick children, moving home, etc.)
  • Possibility of teleworking and flexible organization of working hours
  • Professional equipment available (videoconferencing, loan of computer equipment, etc.)
  • Social, cultural and sports events and activities
  • Access to vocational training
  • Social security coverage
  • General Information
  • Theme/Domain : Optimization, machine learning and statistical methods Statistics (Big data) (BAP E)

  • Town/city : Villeneuve d'Ascq

  • Inria Center : Centre Inria de l'Université de Lille
  • Starting date : 2023-05-01
  • Duration of contract : 5 months
  • Deadline to apply : 2023-03-11
  • Contacts
  • Inria Team : SCOOL
  • PhD Supervisor : Preux Philippe / [email protected]
  • The keys to success
  • Strong working capabilities.
  • Strong skills in simulation of sailing boat, ocean, winds, and their interactions.
  • Strong skills in the use of Gazebo.
  • Strong skills in state-of-the-art practical reinforcement learning.
  • Strong abilities to interact with other researchers, collaborate with them and report.
  • About Inria

    Inria is the French national research institute dedicated to digital science and technology. It employs 2,600 people. Its 200 agile project teams, generally run jointly with academic partners, include more than 3,500 scientists and engineers working to meet the challenges of digital technology, often at the interface with other disciplines. The Institute also employs numerous talents in over forty different professions. 900 research support staff contribute to the preparation and development of scientific and entrepreneurial projects that have a worldwide impact.

    Instruction to apply

    Defence Security : This position is likely to be situated in a restricted area (ZRR), as defined in Decree No. 2011-1425 relating to the protection of national scientific and technical potential (PPST).Authorisation to enter an area is granted by the director of the unit, following a favourable Ministerial decision, as defined in the decree of 3 July 2012 relating to the PPST. An unfavourable Ministerial decision in respect of a position situated in a ZRR would result in the cancellation of the appointment.

    Recruitment Policy : As part of its diversity policy, all Inria positions are accessible to people with disabilities.

    Warning : you must enter your e-mail address in order to save your application to Inria. Applications must be submitted online on the Inria website. Processing of applications sent from other channels is not guaranteed.

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