For our final company visit, we visited GROB Werke. The tour was nice and the facility was massive. GROB creates machines used in the production of cars. In addition, GROB uses its own machines to create other new products to sell. One thing that only GROB really highlighted was their customer service. They work 24/7 and 360 days a year. They can guarantee to get a part to you in 24 hours or less. GROB operates in many different industries from medical tools to automotive parts. One thing I did not realize was how demanding automotive manufacturers are. They ask GROB to create a robot machine with only a few weeks notice. If something breaks? They expect someone to be there and fix it within the day. Like every other company visit, we did a site tour. GROB facilities were likely the biggest. We walked and toured so many buildings I lost count. After our tour, we received lunch from their cafeteria. Our tour guide was so funny and made the tour extra entertaining. GROB is not only great to its customer but also to its employees, giving them lunch free daily.
After our GORB visit, we headed back to the University of Augsburg for two talks. Our first one was by an employee of the VDE, a safety and security agency in Germany meant to inspect electrical, informational, and medical technologies. Products recieve a “VDE Certification” that is put on the products to show consumers it has been tested. The group is mainly composed of government insiders, engineers, and scientists. We discussed how electric cars play into his agency and what changes he expects in the next few years.
Next, we had a talk from a retired engineer from BMW who worked in the department of developing autonomous vehicles. He gave us an in depth view of what it was like working in the industry, and how luxury companies, like BMW, present such trends to the consumer. He also walked us through the different levels of autonomy for vehicles. Most cars are equipped with level 1-cruise control. Other cars such as Tesla are equipped with level 2. Right now, there are development in levels 3 and 4, where the driver doesn’t even have to pay attention to the road. For reference, level 5 is where a driver does not even need to be present, meaning no driver would ever have to take over in unknown conditions. Another huge factor playing into this “who can develop the first autonomous car first and mass produce it” game is other players who aren’t in the field of making vehicles. For example, companies like Google, do not make regular combustion engine cars. Instead, they are using technology from sources they already have like touch sensors, roap maps, bluetooth, etc and buying structural raw materials from other suppliers. I found that BMW and other companies in this field are heavily concentrated in Europe. I’m sure BMW has a team working on similar projects in the US, but the team may be smaller. Overall, even though I am not part of the BMW Company team, I found the talk very interesting.
To end our night, me and a few others went to a local kabob place. Other than ethnic Germans, the two other large ethnic groups in Germany are Italians and Turks. So, it was not hard to find an amazing places to eat. We sat outside to eat and the view was beautiful. I ordered a gyro like wrap with purple pickled cabbage, corn, what I think was like a sour cream sauce, and lettuce. The wrap was delicious! There was so much in the wrap that is started to fall apart at the end; I still ate it with my hands with no shame.
So now that I’m in Augsburg and full of Turkish food. I’m ready for bed. We have one week left here and I cannot wait to see what other crazy adventures await.