Ladenburg and Munich

Day 5 (Monday)

Monday morning we got up at 7 a.m. to eat breakfast, because we had to catch the bus at 7:40 to take us to the train station. After our two train rides to Ladenburg and a quick walk to ABB Group, we left our bags in the lobby and began our tour.

The ABB facilities were very nice, and the first presentation had to do with their control systems and automation when dealing with chemicals in manufacturing (although it had other applications as well). They also showed us a couple robots that could play chess with humans or with each other; the logic came from a computer program, but the significance was how safely the machine could interact with a human. Various sensors around the board and very precise movements by the robot removed virtually all chances of the robot somehow injuring a human it was playing with. For example, if a person put their hand over the board, the machine would begin moving very slowly. Although the sensors for detecting chess pieces were sometime frustrating, it was fun playing with the robots and it could easily be seen how they could be integrated into a manufacturing environment alongside humans.

After one more presentation in the main building, we were taken to an extremely large warehouse. There we were introduced to several other technologies through both presentations and live demonstrations. There was a life-sized packaging system, a temperature variation chamber designed to speed up the aging process of technology, as well as one robot called Frida. Frida resembles a torso with two arms, and has a greater range of motion than a human.  Specifically designed to work alongside humans in manufacturing environments, prototypes of Frida are apparently already being tested in real factories.

Lunch and the rest of the people went very well; the people were all very kind (and most were easy to understand), and while the buffet could not compare to all the delicious restaurants we had grown accustomed to it was still very good.

We left Ladenburg and travelled to Munich, and by the time we got there it was early evening. The Wombat Hostel we stayed at seemed like a great place, and it was fun being in an environment with other young people.  Several of us explored the city for a little while, but besides walking around and going to dinner not much else happened that night. I was finally recovering from my extreme lack of sleep, but I was still exhausted and fell asleep as soon as I went up to our room.