Today we visited the company my group is studying: Continental. We traveled to their production facility and were greeted by probably the best speaker so far. He was head on innovation at Continental and gave great insights, including a discussion of recent deaths in the automated driving industry. He talked about how Continental manages such a diverse company and stays successful over the long term. Continental views self-driving cars as the absolute future of technology and are investing heavily in developing software that they could sell to other companies. Our group of students, German and US, who are presenting on Continental later this trip think that Continental might be developing their own car, but cannot divulge that information. They already develop every part of the car from the engine to the chassis, so if they were to develop excellent software, it would make sense that they try to maximize profits by using their vertical integration to their benefit.
We toured their facility after the engaging talk. The most exciting part of the tour was probably the robots that just were whizzing around us while we walked around the facility. They do maintenance and delivery work in the background to help everything run. I had never seen anything like that before. They had a massive floor where machines assembled components incredibly fast with human overseers. It seemed almost all of the manual labor was completely automated. It was difficult to determine how the visit related to my expectations, because I honestly didn’t have any going in, but I will say I was quite impressed. I was thankful for the attentiveness of the presenter in answering questions for sure.
For the rest of the day, we took my favorite tour so far: Regensburg. The tour guide was a trendy-looking guy who took us around showing us the town square where meetings and executions took place! He loved highlighting the architecture of his city, especially these huge courtyards tucked away just behind the main walls of the city. The city was vibrant and colorful. He also pointed out some of the places where Jews had been taken by the Nazis, now commemorated with plaques that are not only in Regensburg but also all of Germany. There was an ancient bridge over the river where kids swam below us. The city had a strong community-feel. We ended the tour of Regensburg at a famous Beer garden where I had probably my favorite meal of all time. It was a delicious platter of meats and an egg cracked on top. Well-seasoned with beer sauce. Oh, it was so good! I think I will revisit Germany if only to have this meal again. I finally feel more rested and ready for the rest of this trip. This was definitely the best day so far!