Robots and Robotic Cars

Delphi Self Driving Car

Yesterday I hit the jackpot doing the Silicon Valley paparazzi thing. First off, I visited Intel’s “Garage” for their self driving car project. I read there was a media event there the day before. When I arrived it looked like the event was still in swing. Delphi’s self driving Audi was being demonstrated and another white vehicle with the give away Lidar setup on the roof was visible in the distance. Walking up the rather terse security guard asked if I had a badge. “No” – well than you can’t come in!

Delphi Self Driving Car

But alas, I had my new Sigma 150-600mm contemporary I purchased with this sort of thing in mind. Fortunately, Delphi’s “Intel Inside” Audi Q5s is plastered with logos of the various suppliers to the project, Intel, MobilEye, Vehicle 2 Everything, Ottomatika, and a big “Self-Driving Vehicle” notice on the back. Why that’s fortunate, is that unlike most other Self driving cars I’ve stalked, Delphi’s doesn’t have the big Lidar bucket atop. Instead, If you look closely at the full resolution photos, you can see cameras and sensors all over. Not only the more obvious ones in the rear view mirror assembly, but also in various subtle spots I would likely miss walking past this vehicle under normal circumstances.

Waymo’s Autonomous Chrysler minivan on the Streets of Silicon Valley

After my parking spot expired, I moved on to Google in search of the ever illusive new Waymo Chrysler self driving minivan. And this time I found them! In fact, the new Pacifica minivans were so common- it’s my guess that was the reason I didn’t see a single one of those super-cute “pod cars”, perhaps all the “drivers” are busy testing the Chryslers?

Waymo’s Autonomous Chrysler minivan on the Streets of Silicon Valley

And last but not least, I stumbled upon the robot security guard at Microsoft’s Mountain View Campus.

Autonomous Campus Patrol, Microsoft Campus, Silicon Valley

The Knightscope robot is a bit overly cute, it even has a soundtrack with a futuristic sound. 

Autonomous Campus Patrol, Microsoft Campus, Silicon Valley

Greetings from Silicon Valley!

A Belated March 2017 Stock Photos in Revue

I’m hoping to make this a regular thing. I’ll put a month of stock photos up in a gallery, ideally at or near the end of that month. But alas, here’s last month’s edition. 

In this edition: 

Vacuum tubes, Cacti, a robotic barista, Alameda NAS at night, tugboats, Salesforce Tower, Union Square, MOAD, Pflueger’s Pacific Telephone Building, Pepper the Robot, Westfield Mall in SF, Yerba Buena, UBER self driving car, OTTO self driving truck, the Alameda Ferry, Alameda micro-brews, Oakland’s Mountain View Cemetery, Santa Clara University and their self driving shuttle AURO, Salinas, San Juan Bautista, San Jose’s Main MLK library (including the Mozart room), and maybe some other stuff……

Words and photos are (c) Michael Halberstadt. Get permission if you wish to use anything please.

Animated San Jose

Sometimes my photos from my real camera end up on my phone. When that happens they automagically get uploaded to Google Photos. After that Google Photos “Assistant” combs through them, and on occasion suggests possible animated GIFs.

I thought these were fun- a few trains and cranes from my last stock photo day in San Jose.

Thanks for looking….

VTA to Winchester
VTA to Winchester
Bigge Crane Assembly from Saint James Park in San Jose
Bigge Crane Assembly from Saint James Park in San Jose
Bigge Crane Assembly from Saint James Park in San Jose
Bigge Crane Assembly from Saint James Park in San Jose
Bigge Crane Assembly from Saint James Park in San Jose
Bigge Crane Assembly from Saint James Park in San Jose

Caltrain at Diridon Station
Caltrain at Diridon Station
Caltrain at Diridon Station
Caltrain at Diridon Station

 

 

Planes, Trains, But not any Automobiles

Another objective I had visiting San Jose was getting a better feeling for my newish Sigma Contemporary 150-600mm lens. I’m using only Sony mirrorless cameras at the moment and along with Sigma’s MC-11 adapter, they’ve filled a gap in Sony’s lens lineup.

Airplane on approach to SJC
Southwest 737 approaching SJC

So my first (and it turns out my last) stop would be photographing aircraft on approach to San Jose’s international airport. That last bit used to make me giggle. That’s because not that long ago, SJC was only an international airport on a few technicalities. There were a couple flights to Mexico a week or something. But now there are regularly scheduled flights to and from Japan, China, Germany, too!

Airplane on approach to SJC
Hainan Air 787 (?) Approaching SJC

So there are more interesting planes flying in and out as well. In addition to the regular 737’s there are Airbus A320’s and Boeing 777’s as well.

Rail Traffic in San Jose at San Jose Diridon Station
Caltrain entering Diridron Station in San Jose (stock photo)

From planes, we move on to trains. I set out to test my lens on some rail traffic coming and going from San Jose’s Diridron (main, central, downtown, whatever train station you wanna call it.)

Rail Traffic in San Jose at San Jose Diridon Station
ACE train entering Diridon Station

It was really toasty, standing in the sunny weather atop the bridge.

Rail Traffic in San Jose at San Jose Diridon Station
Both planes and trains (Southwest 737 flying over Diridon station Caltrain, Amtrak and ACE trains)

After cooling down, I headed downtown and shot the VTA light rail too.

Light Rail in Downtown San Jose
Pedestrians and VTA light rail in Downtown San Jose

San Jose is Growing UP!

Years, make that decades ago while shopping at Streetlight Records in San Jose, I recall a punk album spoofing the “San Jose is Growing Up” theme title “San Jose is Throwing UP.” That reminded me of the original slogan- which rings more true than then. San Jose is finally getting some real big developments downtown.

San Jose is Growing UP, Construction next to Saint James Park in Downtown San Jose

This became especially evident as I was walking around Saint James Park in Downtown San Jose. A giant crane (apparently operated by the company Bigge based on the signage) was setting up a huge crane.

San Jose is Growing UP, Construction next to Saint James Park in Downtown San Jose

I saw an opportunity to get some nice silhouettes of the base of the crane being assembled. First I whipped out my 100mm lens, the longest lens I had in my bag. It so happened that I had my newish Sigma Contemporary 150-600mm in the car so I headed to go grab it.

San Jose is Growing UP, Construction next to Saint James Park in Downtown San Jose

On my return I noticed a unique juxtaposition with the steel base of the frame of the crane assembly and the iconic Bank of Italy (or as the kids now call it Bank of America) building. Depending on the framing, it looked as though the crane was dwarfing the tower of the BOA building, but that’s only an illusion based on my location.

I did a little research, but am not sure what’s being built on the spot. But it looks like it’s gonna be tall whatever it is!

 

San Jose Back in the Day: Lou’s Donuts

Lou’s Donuts (closed) Downtown San Jose contact sheet

My dad Hans Halberstadt was kind enough to loan me his fancy scanner. And I’ve been going through some old negatives. I found a whole roll of 120 of the old Lou’s Donuts original location at 772 East Santa Clara (across from the old hospital building) soon after it shuttered.

Growing up in downtown San Jose in the 1970’s and 1980’s Lou’s Donuts was a staple.

As I recall they moved to make way for the Walgreen’s that now fills that space. Briefly there was a Lou’s Donut “Museum” as I recall, presumably at the location noted on the window (1261 East Santa Clara.)

Mem-o-ries!

Welcome our New Robotic Overlords

A robot just made my espresso! A quick stock photo excursion brought me to the newish Robo-cafe in San Francisco’s Metreon.

CAFE X, ROBOTIC CAFÉ IN SAN FRANCISCO
CAFE X, ROBOTIC CAFÉ IN SAN FRANCISCO

Cafe X is clearly intended as a prototype or a  publicity stunt. There’s actually a human watching over the entire operation. And there’s no way I can see that they’re even able to cover rent at San Francisco’s Metreon selling a couple hundred espresso drinks at ca. $3/ea.

CAFE X, ROBOTIC CAFÉ IN SAN FRANCISCO
CAFE X, ROBOTIC CAFÉ IN SAN FRANCISCO

But it was fun watching the “Barista” nick-named Gordon at work making my espresso and cappuccino. Best of all he doesn’t accept tips!

CAFE X, ROBOTIC CAFÉ IN SAN FRANCISCO
CAFE X, ROBOTIC CAFÉ IN SAN FRANCISCO

(and check out this video)

Rock Me Beethoven

(with my apologies to the late Falco and the even later Amadeus….)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, San Jose, California, USA

San Jose has a wonderful newish Library. I’ve visited the MLK Library a few times already. But until now managed to avoid visiting the Beethoven Center.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, San Jose, California, USA

The MLK Library is somewhat unique as I understand it as it is both the City of San Jose’s Public library and is shared as part of San Jose State University. In addition to having some of the best publicly accessible views of the city, it is home to a number of special collections. In addition to the aforementioned Beethoven Center, there’s also a Steinbeck center, California Room various special ethnic collections on the fifth floor.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, San Jose, California, USA

As I arrived the Beethoven Center just a few minutes before closing. The gentleman there told me that he plays some of the historical pianos – but he was wrapping up to close so I’d have to come back another day.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, San Jose, California, USA

And so I will!

Aura – An Easy to Follow Self Driving Vehicle

My step-mom April Halberstadt attends church on the Santa Clara University Campus. Knowing my proclivity for chasing self driving vehicles down the Streets of Silicon Valley, she made a point of letting me know that there’s a self driving shuttle on campus.

Auro Self Driving Shuttle, Santa Clara University, Silicon Valley, USA
Auro Self Driving Shuttle

While recently in the neighborhood, I went to see what’s going on in Santa Clara and swing by the university campus. Most of what’s interesting to see is in or around the university. The city and university are centered around the mission. While on campus, I typically swing by the De Saissat museum- but I was too early on this visit.

Santa Clara University, Silicon Valley, USA
Mission Santa Clara

In any case, there was no sign of the self driving shuttle actually, I noticed there literally was a sign, literally (!) that I passed. But in any case, there I was minding my own business checking out the Mission building when up pulled the Auro. A young man seated  in the Auro (guess we can’t call him the driver) was asked by a lady passing by, so if you have to choose between hitting a pedestrian or a skateboarder what happens. At that point I chimed in suggesting the Auro should hit the skateboarder because they are more annoying. They then went on to discuss the “Trolley Problem” and I kept photographing.

Auro Self Driving Shuttle, Santa Clara University, Silicon Valley, USA
Auro Self Driving Shuttle

What was nice, from my perspective at least, is that the Auro is very slow. And that it has a route and stop right in front of the iconic mission. So after a few photos close up, I sat and relaxed at the fountain a ways back to get a more distant view. After getting a few sans vehicle photos eventually the Auro drove slowly towards me. In fact, another little similarly configured electric powered utility vehicle zoomed right past the Auro. The series of photos fit nicely into an animated GIF (see below.)

Auro Self Driving Car Race