Day 6 – The Future of Autonomous Vehicles and Robotics (May 13th)

We once again woke up at 7 and today would be our final day of company tours. We were visiting Grob Werke, which is a company that develops machines which are then used to develop specific parts with a variety of applications. We first had a presentation on some overall statistics about the company. We learned about what products they produce, some specifications, and who they supply to. Also, they reviewed some safety information and then we went on the factory tour. The factory in itself was very cool. They showcased a lot of their products and machines they produced. There are some specific ones I want to highlight. First, there was a solid aluminum basketball hoop that was carved from a solid block of aluminum and also a go-kart that the company made. We saw a lot of the raw materials that they had and the final products each machine produces alongside each machine. It was also really thoughtful that they gave us headsets so that no matter how loud the noise in the factory we would be able to hear our tour guide.

Grob’s Main Building

After our tour we went to the company cafeteria and had lunch. I had the Indian curry and rice which was delicious. It was cool that their lunch is always free and their facilities were really clean and aesthetically pleasing.

After lunch we went back to the conference room. We then had a presentation on the job opportunities in Grob-Werke. Honestly, they were rather tempting. Working with robotics and machines is something I have a great deal of interest in and they had so many company benefits such as 401k, paid vacation, free lunch and much more. Overall, the company visit was really entertaining and definitely worth the visit.

We then drove back directly to Augsburg University where we were going to have two more talks. One on the VDE and then another on autonomous driving. The VDE talk was about the drive portfolio of the future which was released in 2021. They interviewed 10 people for the views, expectations and assumptions for the future of the automobile industry. It fit very well with the company tours and research that we were doing and gave us an unbiased look at everything we had been covering up to that point.

After the VDE talk we then had a talk about Autonomous driving. It was given by a retired employee from BMW who worked for the Autonomous Driving research there. There were a lot of interesting stories that he told us about. One thing that I didn’t realize was that driverless technology has been in development for a really long time now. Some of the first examples he showed us were from the early 2000s and late 1990s. When I imagine autonomous driving I imagine it being super high-tech and something that we’re only starting to achieve now, but in actuality, car companies have been developing solutions for over 20 years now. Another cool thing that our speaker talked about was the 5 stages of autonomous driving. This ranges from only human control to only machine control. Right now most companies have purchasable Level 2 vehicles, where the vehicle can perform some operations such as changing lanes, accelerating, and braking, but the driver is in control of the vehicle. However, Honda has released a Level 3 vehicle that can allow the driver to divert their attention in low-risk situations but still be ready to take control if need be. I can’t wait to see where technology gets in the next 20 years. Hopefully we will all be able to enjoy what it would be like to live in a world of autonomous vehicles.

Picture of Augsburg University’s Lake

After we got back from the University we went to get dinner at Aposto, an Italian restaurant in Augsburg. Our entire Plus3 group was there, plus Maxi and Nico, two Augsburg students who we’ve befriended during the program. I got Seemansgarn which was a tomato basil sauce and salmon pasta. It was delicious, but the portion size was relatively small. Afterwards, we got gelato. It’s crazy that something can taste so good and only cost 2 euros. Once everyone had bought theirs, we walked around the city and talked with each other. It was a great day but I’m tired and can’t wait to go to sleep. See you on the other side!


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