Intelligent assistance system for Berlin garbage trucks aims to prevent accidents; developed by Freie Universität spin-off
Maneuvering a 26-ton vehicle through Berlin’s streets, some of which are quite narrow, is no easy task, even with rear-view and side mirrors, guidance from colleagues, and experience as a driver. As a result, garbage trucks in Berlin have repeatedly been involved in collisions with objects or – in the worst case – even with people. To prevent this, Berlin’s city sanitation service, BSR, engaged AutoNOMOS Systems, a company spun off from Freie Universität, to develop a concept to resolve the issue. The result is an intelligent camera system intended to help drivers of garbage trucks navigate in reverse. After a one-year development phase, the Reversing Assistance System (RAS) will be tested on the road for a year before it is decided whether additional BSR vehicles will be equipped with the system.
Islamic studies scholar Anne Schönfeld analyzes the public debate regarding educating imams at German universities
When Anne Schönfeld decided to study Islamic Studies, in 2001, she met with mixed responses. Some people were interested and curious, but she also heard “a rant or two” about archaic mindsets, violent propensities, and patriarchal structures. The fact that she ultimately decided to concentrate in her studies on public debates surrounding Islam was at least partly a reaction to this resistance, which she encountered frequently when talking with others. Schönfeld, 31, is currently writing her dissertation at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies at Freie Universität on the debates that have accompanied the introduction of Islamic Theology as a subject at universities in Germany since the 2010/11 winter semester.
Małgorzata Rajtar, working at the medical anthropology research area at Freie Universität, studies Jehovah’s Witnesses’ refusal of blood transfusions on religious grounds
Social and cultural anthropologist Małgorzata Rajtar, born in Gdansk, Poland, has been interested in other peoples and religious groups for a long time now. That meant it was only logical for her to begin a formal academic program in social and cultural anthropology. She did so in Warsaw, going on to earn her doctorate there in 2006. Rajtar wrote her master’s thesis on notions of the devil in Polish villages. As part of her research, she interviewed village residents rumored to be possessed by the devil or to have magical powers. “Many of the rural population’s views on the devil have hardly changed at all since the 19th century,” she says. Village residents gave her a warm welcome and even let her stay overnight at their farmhouses. “Everyone was very open. I wouldn’t have had the same kind of experience in the city. And the people in the villages also found it exciting to be interviewed,” Rajtar says. Ever since doing this field research, she has remained true to the topic of religion and ethics.