Car Wars Episode V: “Auto-Bots” Transform and Roll Out

Today is the day I have been waiting for.

Here’s why:

#1. I got to get some extra sleep since we didn’t have to leave the hotel until 9:30. I thoroughly appreciated this later start to our day.

#2. We took a bus to a locally owned restaurant called Baindlkirch to feast upon a traditional Bavarian breakfast consisting of Weißwurst (white sausage, which is traditionally eaten only before noon), sweet mustard, and pretzels with cheese sauce. This is easily one of my personal favorite german dishes of all time, so I made each and every bite last as long as humanly possible. I sat with the German students in my presentation group and enjoyed our conversations about food, the differences between America and Germany in terms of educational programs, and fun things to do in the areas surrounding Augsburg. After we finished delightfully ingesting our wondrous sustenance, we watched one of the restaurant workers make white sausage by feeding veal into a processing machine and pulling out the sausage-shaped meat, which was then ready to be cooked. I always assumed white sausage was relatively expensive, so I was quite surprised to find out that the white sausage at Baindlkirch only costs sixty cents! I also did not expect the pretzel to also cost sixty cents–I assumed its price would be different from that of the white sausage considering the fact that it’s a completely different type of food altogether. No wonder that restaurant was so packed!



#3. In the afternoon, we visited the company I have been assigned to do a presentation about next week: KUKA (Keller und Knappich Augsburg), a company that produces robots that make more robots, which make even more robots. The first part of the tour was definitely the highlight of my entire day: the KUKA representative led us into the “showroom”, which reminded me of the Star Wars exhibit that I went to in Munich last year; a timeline of KUKA’s history lined one wall of the corridor that led into the dark showroom, where two robots on a raised platform performed a show for us by moving blocks that lit up and promoted the company’s goals and missions. Then, we were free to explore the other parts of the showroom for a few minutes, including a place to take a picture with an orange robot, a touchscreen to control KUKA’s most lightweight, touch-sensitive robot, a touchscreen to make the orange robots on the raised platform draw a picture, and more high-tech, informative, and (most importantly) interactive features. Following this grand entrance, we made our way to the production plant and watched robots of all shapes, sizes, and colors (but mostly orange) move various parts around to assemble another robot. Two of the most interesting robots in the plant were the KR 1000 Titan, which was much more colossal than I expected and could hold up to 1300 kg using different types of grippers, and the lightweight robot we played with in the showroom, which is extremely flexible and interacts very well with humans due to its touch-sensitivity and its easy programmability. Finally, one of the researchers who work at KUKA gave a presentation about the many specific types of robots the company is making, what kinds of industries they cater to, and what the future for the company looks like. The most interesting part of the presentation for me was the fact that KUKA will shift its focus more towards the medical industry and away from the automotive industry, which I found quite surprising. Nonetheless, the use of such awesome robots as MRI scanners and surgical equipment is definitely a step forward from my perspective as a pre-med biomedical engineering student.



And thus endeth the best day in the program so far. I will recharge my inner batteries in preparation for more adventures to come.

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