Civil servant of the technical service: Peter Fritzen
Civil servant of the technical service: Peter Fritzen
- Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support
At Wehrtechnische Dienststelle 41 in Trier nothing works without driving robots. They relieve the drivers in the physically demanding driving tests of all military vehicles. Peter Fritzen knows the high-tech devices inside out and does real pioneering work in his job.
Master of Robots
The Bundeswehr Technical Center for Land-Based Vehicle Systems, Engineer and General Field Equipment (WTDWehrtechnische Dienststelle 41) is the center of expertise for everything on wheels in the Bundeswehr. Technicians, specialized craftsmen and over 120 engineers of different technical disciplines assess, evaluate and test vehicles regarding their suitability for the forces and for service use. Peter Fritzen is one of them. He provides support in the field of driving tests and robotics with his knowledge in mechanics and electronics.
Test driving in extreme terrain under local weather conditions and full load demands maximum performance not only from the vehicles. To relieve the drivers, robots are employed on artificial test tracks. Acceleration, braking and steering is computer controlled and realized by hydraulic and motor elements. Peter Fritzen is responsible for installing the driving robots.
"My job involves fine tuning the robot software, installing the driving robots in the vehicles and checking the technical devices,” he explains. Furthermore, Fritzen supports his colleagues at the control station during the vehicle tests.
Eagle IV during the Driving Test
Since 2016, Peter Fritzen has been working for BAAINBwBundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr as technical civil servant. Fritzen is married with three children and has found his work exciting from the very beginning. He exactly remembers his first project, the robotic equipment for Eagle armored vehicles. "We had planned to equip three Eagle IV with different robot systems and to have them drive on our artificial test track at the same time. That would accelerate our tests significantly," Fritzen tells us.
What at first sounds simple is true pioneering work in reality. This is because even the automated driving of a single car does not always run smoothly. "Hardware and software often have to be laboriously synchronized. Sometimes, the individual robot systems do not know how to react to the sine-wave track and the washboard track on our testing range and do not do what they are supposed to do," Fritzen explains. If three vehicles are sent on the track at the same time, they additionally have to coordinate among themselves. Plenty of challenging fine tuning work, also for the civil servant. But in the end, all three Eagles were harmonized with each other and no accidents occurred. "The effort and the pondering were worthwhile," says Fritzen.
Every Vehicle is a New Challenge
The driving robots Fritzen installs are composed of different individual components. "Braking and accelerating robots, steering robots, gear shifting robots, cameras, monitors, power supply and the central processing unit must be installed in the cars and interconnected," the technical civil servant explains. For this, you need concentration, patience and skilled hands. "Furthermore, every vehicle is different. We have to adapt the robots to the respective conditions," says Fritzen. His previous training as agricultural machinery mechanic helps him with that. The Bundeswehr has recognized his qualification. "Therefore, my career training to become civil servant of the technical service was only 12 months instead of 18 months," he explains.
Part of the training consisted of theoretical courses at the Federal Academy of Education and Training in the Bundeswehr in Mannheim and two eight-week internships. "In the course of that I was already able to get an idea where I would prefer to work," the 33-year-old explains. "Working at Bundeswehr Technical Center 41 was my first choice." Fritzen considers himself to be a service provider for the forces. "What I do helps those whose job it is to drive the vehicle," he says. "When I was still a transportation NCO, I often wondered: Who has had a look at this vehicle? Now I can tell the comrades who ask themselves the same question: ‘The vehicle we have tested is good.’ We can hand it over to them without a qualm." For him, that is a fulfilling aspect of his job.
7 Questions to Peter Fritzen
What do you like best in regard to your work and your environment?
The diversity and the broad range of tasks as well as my humorous colleagues make this job my dream job.
What person do you most admire?
My father, who has never lost sight of his objectives and continues to commit himself to putting his plans into action.
What character traits do you like best in other people?
Ambition, optimism and humor.
Is there anything you cannot stand at all?
Being late, grumpy faces in the morning and traffic jams.
Is there anything you cannot refuse?
Classic cars and fast cars.
Which statement matches your motto in life best?
Fortes fortuna adiuvat. It means something like "fortune favors the bold”.
What does your desk look like?
Quite a number of Rubik’s Cubes, they always help if you need to untangle a brain knot.