Zoox’s VH5

I just read that Zoox’s CEO was unexpectedly ousted. I also noticed the name of that Bi-directional car I caught being tested on the runway near my house. Guess it’s time to update my Keywords. 

That funky car is dubbed the VH5. Reminds me of a cable TV music station: like there was VH1, then they added a bunch of variations up to VH5. 

Autonomous Lincoln MK Z Spottings

I got a reader of this blog trying to help me discern the provenance of an unmarked Lincoln MK Z (in the photo below.) I took the photo in the parking lot of NIO in San Jose. Teague (the reader) mentioned they thought it might be aurora.tech.

Unidentified Self Driving Vehicle near Nio offices in San Jose

Then it occurred to me, I had just gotten a request from Bloomberg for another Lincoln MK Z to use in a story. 

Roadstar.ai Self Driving CarRoadstar.ai Self Driving Car on the Streets of Silicon Valley

I believe some of the Baidu autonomous cars I found in this Silicon Valley parking lot are also MK Zs.

Baidu Self Driving Vehicles, Sunnyvale, Silicon Valley
Baidu Self Driving Vehicles, Sunnyvale, Silicon Valley

Then my most recent paparazzi attempt I spotted this MK Z a block from Zoox’s secret lair.

Zoox Self Driving Lincoln MK Z
Zoox Self Driving Lincoln MK Z

I have no idea what the appeal of a Lincoln MK Z is over, say a Honda Civic, or any other car is. But it seems to be one of the most popular choices for self driving vehicle startups.

Zoox Autonomous Vehicle Testing San Francisco

I went out in search of Zoox’s “secret lair” the other day. I read an article in Forbes that gave me some clues where to look:

A block from San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront is a place you’re not supposed to notice. The little two-story building has no sign out front. Not even a street number affixed to its gray brick walls. Every window and door contains shaded glass, and a black, razor-wire-topped fence obscures its parking lot.

Welcome to the San Francisco testing site of Zoox, one of the most secretive startups in the booming world of autonomous driving.

Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (copyright M Halberstadt)

Hmmm, a block from San Francisco’s Embarcadero, a gray two story building with a black fence with razor wire…. could this be it? 

I think the matte black Toyota Highlanders with Lidar racks might be a hint, don’t you?

Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (copyright M Halberstadt)

Once I found Zoox’s hiding spot, it was like shooting ducks in a barrel or however that metaphor works.

Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (copyright M Halberstadt)

Unlike Google Alphabet Waymo out in the ‘burbs they get some real world problems in an urban environment of San Francisco, like lots of double parked delivery vehicles. 

Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (stock photo copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (stock photo copyright M Halberstadt)

I’m assuming the Lincoln MK Z I caught in my autonomous paparazzi sting was also from Zoox- but who knows. There aren’t many other self driving car projects in San Francisco.

Here are a few more stock photos from my library:

Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (stock photo copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (stock photo copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (stock photo copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (stock photo copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (stock photo copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (stock photo copyright M Halberstadt)

Ooops, I forgot to post this here: Apple Self Driving Car Sighting

I posted this on my “Streets of Silicon Valley” blog, but forgot to put here. I usually write a separate post for each blog, but this time I’m going to be lazy and just paste here:

Finally! I’d been hoping to track down the Apple self driving car project for a while now. I staked out one facility where I believe Apple is doing their research into self driving cars. There was some strange activity, notably every couple minutes a new white Lexus SUV would arrive. Some had plates, some didn’t. I suspected they were being prepped for autonomous conversion, but saw no Lidar.

And low-and-behold I came across one of those Lexus SUV’s rigged up with Lidar driving into an Apple property!

As always, a big thanks to Mario Herger, and the friendly folks at Reddit’s Self Driving Car stub for all their support! All images and text are (c) Michael Halberstadt and be sure to ask if you wish to use.

You can find more of my self driving car photos here: LINK

Silicon Valley Stock Photos- Local Tourism

Aside from chasing autonomous cars, I covered a little other Silicon Valley local tourism. 

Plaza de César Chávez
Plaza de César Chávez

Plaza de Cesar Chavez in downtown San Jose was nice and tidy. And with those colorful chairs out I thought it a good opportunity to shoot some stock.

Circle of Palms Plaza
Circle of Palms Plaza

And I wandered over to the San Jose Museum of Art too.

And took a look at what changes have come to the Googleplex. Guess the latest android operating system is “Oreo”.

Gingerbread Ass

Then I headed to the “Android Graveyard” (I think Google calls it the Android Sculpture Garden, but whatever….)

And I had a handy Google Now reminder I setup to pull out my Android toys whenever I’m at the Googleplex. And it worked! I broke out my Android toy and set him next to his larger brother (or sister? our Green Robot is quite androgynous.)

I almost forgot- I also visited Shoreline Park in Mountain View. There’s also the Rengsdorf House from back in the day when Mountain View was rural.

Setting my sites on home, I thought it might be a good time to revisit Youtube HQ in San Bruno.

Youtube HQ

There was a lot of security out front. There had been a shooting at the site a few weeks earlier. One of the security guards was a total d!ck telling me I couldn’t photograph from the sidewalk, then giving me sh!t when I told him I could. Another lady followed me and aggressively asked why I was photographing the building. Argh!

Bi-Polar Santa Clara

At least I had one pole- this is a somewhat unique view of Santa Clara’s Civic Center Park and Fountain. With the drought over, there’s water in the fountain unlike last time I came here. While I came here with a pole (mono-polar?) There was a guy in the corner of the park shouting insults at me as I photographed. I was a bit worried but he never came too close. Eventually another vagrant came buy and the had a shouting match beneath the gaze of Saint Claire and my new Sony A6500.

Civic Center Park, Santa Clara, California, USA
Civic Center Park, Santa Clara, California, USA

Civic Center Park, Santa Clara, California, USA
Civic Center Park, Santa Clara, California, USA

 

Yahoo!, Youtube, Cruise Automation and the Golden Gate Bridge

Finally! I had a day to run around and shoot some stock.

Yahoo offices in Sunnyvale, Silicon Valley

I chose to head down to Sunnyvale to visit the Yahoo HQ.  Not that too much has changed, but I wanted an excuse to visit Weird Stuff Warehouse. Plus I wanted to do a little recon to see if there was any activity over at the Baidu and Renault/Nissan research centers. The only real difference notable at the Yahoo building was the flag up with “Oath, a Verizon Company” on it. BTW, weird name for a company…but whatever.

Yahoo offices in Sunnyvale, Silicon Valley

Now, on to San Bruno to YouTube HQ…. once again this was on my list to flesh out my stock photo archive of tech companies. Note to self, return in the morning when the light on the front will be better.

YouTube in San Bruno

Next stop was Cruise Automation in San Francisco. They’re GM’s self driving car research center. It’s funny- they try to make this a secret- the building is still labelled “Borden Decal Co.” But it’s hard to miss the Chevy Bolt EVs coming and going every few minutes with the funky Lidar antennae. 

Self Driving Car Testing on the Streets of San Francisco

And once I got more boring autonomous car testing pics, I headed to Crissy Field hoping to get some nice Golden Gate Bridge photos. I’ve posted a few here, but I did also shoot some medium format film too. Those won’t be ready for a while if they do turn out well. 

The End of Project Firefly

I’ve had a good time documenting Google’s adorable little self driving pod car. Just having read that Waymo’s prototype was being retired I was reminded of chasing those cars all over parking lots and streets of Silicon Valley from nearly the beginning of the project.

Google Self Driving Car, Mountain View, Silicon Valley

It’s fun to see the progression over the years. The stubby LIDAR in the beginning, then the clear plastic dome, and later a black dome.

Mountain View, Silicon Valley, California, USA - 15 October 2014: Google Self Driving Car Prototype being Driven in Silicon Valley Parking Lot.

In the beginning when I first found the car being (illegally?) tested in a public City of Mountain View parking lot I got some grief from the testers for photographing their vehicle.

Google Self Driving Car, Mountain View, Silicon Valley

Later, as Google moved on to a new building and the prototypes became ubiquitous I could just sit on a park bench near their “garage” and wait for my subjects to come to me.

Autonomous car being tested in Silicon Valley parking lot

While the Chrysler self driving minivans may be more practical, frankly their aesthetically boring! The “pod car” design by YooJung Ahn really stood out as futuristic. 

Self Driving Car

I wasn’t too keen on the “artwork” that was placed on the doors a few years back aesthetically speaking.

Self Driving Car

Self Driving Car

But the most recent “Firefly” with the Waymo logo on it and the lit teal bar on the door struck me as pretty cool.

Around the Googleplex

I’ll miss you firefly!

 

A Belated May Roundup…..

I’ve been trying to dump all relevant stock photos from a month of stock shootin’ on the web. A while back Godaddy- one of my hosts, changed some settings screwing up my “imagefarm” that I setup a couple years back. 

But alas, I finally found the setting and fixed it.

So here’s a Lightroom Web Gallery for last May:

Tesla Testing

Tesla being Tested

Intel Museum

Intel Museum, Silicon Valley

A Bitcoin ATM

Bitcoin ATM

Knightscope Robots

Security Robot

Hacker Dojo

Hacker Dojo

Nvidia

Nvidia

That Android Graveyard again

Droid Statue

Mercedes-Daimler Silicon Valley Research

Mercedes Logo as seen Around the MBRDNA

GM- Cruise Automation

Cruise Automation Self Driving Car

Legion of Honor

Girls Photographing Art

Google Alphabet Waymo Chrysler minivan in the wild

Waymo's Autonomous Chrysler minivan

Intel’s “Garage” in Silicon Valley

Self Driving Car

http://imagefarm.siliconvalleystock.com/imagefarm/2017/2017_May_Roundup/index_15.html

Tearsheet: CityWire

I’ve been busy doing reverse image searches and here are a few resulting tearsheets. This one is from CityWire by Peter Smith.

CityWire Blog: Advice profession requires robotic regulation
Around the Googleplex
Self Driving Car licensed via Alamy