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When Alex and I arrived at Mercedes-Benz in Sindelfingen for our first assignment as Genius junior reporters, we had a big surprise. We were standing in an enormous hall, and in the center of it was a construction that looked like a spaceship.
It was a big black capsule that was standing on long stilts on top of gigantic rails. It was weird! It reminded me of the marble runs I like to build in my free time. I really try hard to invent new and exciting channels for the marbles to roll through — but this capsule looked a lot more complicated than that.
A real car, but simulated driving
We soon found out the secret behind the black capsule when our interview partner came out to meet us. Jasmin von Göler is the boss here — so we wondered if she was something like the captain of the spaceship. At that point she told us what the capsule was all about. Inside it is a complete automobile — and sometimes even the driver’s cabin of a truck is in there! Alex and I were amazed, and we wondered how those things got in there.
And why was a car inside it in the first place? Jasmin explained that there are projection screens all around the car, just like in a 360° movie theater. On the screens, engineers can show the road on which the car is driving and also the landscape around it, including houses, trees, and even pedestrians. Jasmin called the capsule a driving simulator.
A person can sit down in the car inside the capsule and “drive” it. This is where the rails come into play. The car that’s inside the capsule (which Jasmin calls the “dome”) stays put. The driving simulator is the thing that moves — along the rails. For example, when you’re inside it feels as though you’re driving very fast around a curve, but nothing bad can really happen to you.
That’s when things got exciting at the driving simulator
All of that sounded great — but I agreed with Alex: It was time for us to see the driving simulator in action! We went up into the control room, where there were lots of screens. Some of them showed diagrams and tables that looked fairly complicated to Alex and me. But on some other screens we also saw the road along which the car in the driving simulator was traveling.
A colleague of Jasmin’s got into the car and started driving. And then we saw all the things the driving simulator can do. It whizzed very fast along the rails through the hall, turning back and forth. It looked as though the man in the car was really getting shaken up. Was he feeling seasick?
Jasmin said we could simply ask him. We only needed to press a button in order to talk to the driver via a microphone. He said he was feeling fine, because he does this often. He also said it feels just like real driving. It was fun to chat with the driver via the microphone. Alex and I kept getting new ideas.
We asked the driver to drive as fast as he could. And we wanted to know what would happen if he crashed into the cones that were set up on the street. We really challenged him! But that way we found out what the driving simulator was for. You can’t try out things like that on real streets, because it would be much too dangerous.
It was over much too soon
That was a lot of fun! Our first day of work as junior reporters at Genius was over much too soon. We said goodbye to Jasmin, and we promised her that we’ll come back when we have our own driver’s licenses. Then we can be test persons and “drive” in the driving simulator.
But in the meantime, we’re looking forward to our time as Genius junior reporters! We’re looking forward to seeing what kinds of adventures we’ll have in the world of Daimler.