Welcome as industrial PhD candidate Martin Frank!

Welcome as industrial PhD candidate Martin Frank!

Martin Frank is an industrial PhD candidate at BTH. Working as Research Engineer within Emerging Technologies at Volvo Construction Equipment he’ll now “double” by doing his PhD with a focus on data-driven design for autonomous systems. Martin is contributing to, and doing research in, the KKS research profile “Model Driven Development and Decision Support“.

Martin in Design Thinking lecture mode at Volvo Innovation Days 2018 in Wroclaw.


I am Martin Frank and I live in a small village close to Trier in Germany. If not in the office and in the lab, I like to be in the nature where I get a lot of energy, no matter if it is in the woods, at the river or at the beach. I’m very passionate about hiking and exploring my environment by walking. In addition to that, I like building stuff with my hands and I really like to use and combine different materials and techniques to get to the final result. Whenever possible, I grab a book and read and I constantly try to learn new skills and get new competencies. This is also the reason why I really enjoy to finally got into the industrial PhD path. It will be demanding but also fun. 

Currently, I’m working as a research engineer at Volvo Construction Equipment and have a focus on Intelligent and Autonomous Machines. I graduated from the University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern, Germany, with a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering. I started my professional career in the Advanced Engineering Department of a multinational Agricultural OEM as research engineer before I joined Volvo Construction Equipment in 2011.

Since then, I’m working as a research engineer in the Emerging Technologies team with a focus on machine intelligence and autonomous systems. As part of my responsibilities, I’m very active in the ME310 collaboration between Mechanical Engineering/BTH, the Stanford University and Volvo CE. During the years we had defined and conducted projects in the fields of Urban Mining as a business opportunity for Volvo (https://www.productdevelopment.se/?p=431 / https://www.productdevelopment.se/?p=1083), collaboration between humans and automated teammates (https://www.productdevelopment.se/?p=2750 ) leading to “from elephants to ants, from earth to mars” (https://www.productdevelopment.se/?p=4529 ) and lately “The pain of today and the concern of tomorrow” (https://www.productdevelopment.se/?p=6794 ). Since the collaboration projects also serve as joint research opportunities for BTH researchers and VOLVO CE on the application of Design Thinking and global design collaboration I was able to deepen my knowledge in the fields of Design Thinking and working in and with distributed teams. Also see Martins view as industrial coach in ME310 this year https://www.productdevelopment.se/?p=6526.

In addition to my research engineer position I’m also Volvo CE Technology Specialist for intelligent machines. Within this role, I support internal development projects globally and drive exploration initiatives in that area.


My research area is the data-driven design for autonomous systems. The next wave of automation should not happen because we can automate certain systems and tasks it’s more about dedicated automation with a clear purpose and benefit. While we are heading more and more to fully autonomous systems in the mining, raw material extraction and construction industry a clear understanding of the needs and the requirements for these autonomous systems needs to be established. Usually, machines and systems are automated by adding new sensing, processing and actuating technologies to an existing machine which was originally designed to be human operated. To develop and design the next generation of autonomous systems a basic understanding of the site process, the different interaction on a site level and for sure the business of our customers is needed to take the right decisions. With my research, I would like to support the decision process within the engineering departments by connecting different data sources to describe the basic structure of the customer’s process and subsequently propose areas where new concepts of autonomous systems can be applied in a beneficial way.

Especially the collaboration between humans and automated systems is of high interest as well. Results in this research area can already be applied at today’s machines and sites. A nice example for this is collaboration with one of our Key account customers, the COLAS Group, in which we used Design Thinking to develop concepts to increase site safety. Here, among other concepts, the results from the ME310 project on collaboration between humans and autonomous machines had been developed further (https://www.volvoce.com/global/en/news-and-events/news-and-press-releases/2018/volvo-ce-tests-safety-concepts-with-colas/ ).


I hope I can add my industrial perspective and expertise to the BTH community in a beneficial way. I believe that the deep collaboration between academia and industry will lead to new insights and opportunities for both sides. With my industry background and network in place I guess the research and collaboration can be a kind of “fast track” for new solutions from the academic area into the customers and users hand.

On the other hand I like to share my perspective with other industry partners and hear their view what is usually very exciting and can trigger new ways of thinking. I enjoy working with students and I hope to continue and increase my collaboration with students and researches on specific topics at the BTH and with customers.

“We are living in an extraordinary time, I would like to use the possibilities we have right now to develop systems that have a beneficial impact on people’s lives and the society” 

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