Friday, June 5, 2009

Getting paid to drive nice cars

So here's an overview of the past few days:
Wednesday was an amazing day! Darcy, Mandy, Ivan and I who are all working with the Fahrzeugtechnik Darmstadt (FZD) research institute were taken for a ride in the morning with my research adviser Fabian in a brand new BMW 750i. It was incredible! I may sound like a nerd with all of my excitement but I don't even care. Let me describe just a few of the many amazing features this $180,000 car had. I sat in the back and both Darcy and I had a TV screen in front of us with options to view the GPS system, internet, music, movies, and radio. In the front of the car there was a moniter that had the same options but also allowed the driver to change from the different driving modes (sport plus for example which was for high speed driving), view outside from any angle of the car (to aid in parking). It also had a night vision option. The coolest feature of all was automated cruise control (ACC). When this button was pressed the car essentially drove itself with the exception of steering. Because the car has cameras and sensors all over it, it would detect the speed limit in an area, detect if there was a red light or stop sign as well as cars in front or behind it. Sooooooo incredible!!! After getting all of these features and many more demonstrated to us we headed onto the autobahn. Unfortunately there was some traffic in a few areas so we only reached a top speed of about 220 kmh (about 140-150 mph). During the entire drive I never even felt like we were going fast either because the car is so incredibly smooth. After returning back to TUD for a lunch break we headed out again to the airport where they test drive cars. This time all four of us drove on the track. I reached about 200 kmh or 120 mph and I felt like I was going about 50. It was truly an awesome day!! And do make matters even better my research for the summer is essentially test driving cars (maybe not all as cool as the BMW).
Thursday, Fabian and I just finalized our research goals and I spent the rest of the day shopping for data logging systems that we can use to measure the acceleration of cars so that we can compare this information with fuel consumption. FZD gets cars from various automotive companies and is asked to drive them around and review them. Because fuel economy ratings are based on perfect conditions and don't account for acceleration or stopping and starting we want to come up with a way to better way a car's fuel consumption. Fabian called Honda in the morning and they will be giving FZD an Insight for us to drive. This is a hybrid car just coming out on the market and we get to test it! Pretty exciting stuff! Thursday, Darcy and I also bought tickets and booked a hostel for 5 of us to head to Munich for the weekend. I also went running in the evening and found some great running trails that seem to go on for a while! The weather has been kind of cold for me lately but good for running. Hopefully it gets warmer soon!
Today Fabian and I ordered a data logging system. As seems to be the case with all of my jobs to date I was told that I work too fast. So he and Stefan brainstormed in German on what else I could work on while waiting for the system to arrive. Stefan was surprised when I understood most of what they said. It was great seeing how much they both cared that I get something out of this experience and wanted to make sure I had meaningful work to do. Definitely a different experience from the past two summers. I think I am going to cave in and attempt to put pictures on facebook so those of you who have an account feel free to check them out. It takes forever to put pictures up on here so I will see if facebook is faster.

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