Here’s what I saw last time I chased the Apple Autonomous Cars

 

With some detective work, I found where Apple is doing their modifications to their “Project Titan” vehicles. I did a “stake out” recently and here’s what I saw (photos below.) In addition to the “Project Titan” Lexuses (Lexi?) I came across mapping vans being tested nearby.

Unmarked Self Driving Vehicle in Silicon Valley (believed to be Apple)
Unmarked Mapping Vehicle in Silicon Valley (believed to be Apple)
Unmarked Self Driving Vehicle in Silicon Valley (believed to be Apple)
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley

Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley

Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley

Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley

Joshua Hendy Iron Works Museum

Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Unmarked Mapping Vehicle in Silicon Valley (believed to be Apple)

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

St Peter’s Chapel on Mare Island in Vallejo

St Peter’s Chapel Mare Island – Vallejo

For family reasons I found myself in Vallejo for a couple days. I wanted to do some photography on Mare Island, an area I spent a lot of time when living in Vallejo a decade ago. 

St Peter’s Chapel Mare Island – Vallejo

While taking a few stock photos of St Peter’s chapel a classic car came up and parked right out front. Looking at the photos it looks like a Buick 8 coupe from the 1940’s in spectacular shape. The owner must be quite a character, he came out in military dress clothes and walked a tiny dog. 

St Peter’s Chapel Mare Island – Vallejo

Nio Autonomous Lincoln MkZ?

I found this burgundy Lincoln MKZ all lidared out at the NIO HQ in Silicon Valley. I didn’t see any Lincolns on NIO’s website, maybe they were just visiting?

What do you think?

Unidentified Self Driving Vehicle near Nio offices in San Jose
Unidentified Self Driving Vehicle near Nio offices in San Jose
Unidentified Self Driving Vehicle near Nio offices in San Jose
Unidentified Self Driving Vehicle near Nio offices in San Jose

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!

A Few More Self Driving Vehicle Pics

To keep current, I made a loop around a few self driving car projects. First two stops were a cluster of companies in Santa Clara: SF Motors and Voyage.

SF Motors

Regrettably, not much to see there. Nothing I could see in the parking lots, no interesting traffic in or out of their office parks or buildings. But for the stock photo library I made a couple of photos anyhow. 

Waymo Road Testing a Peterbilt Class 8 truck in Silicon Valley
Waymo Road Testing a Peterbilt Class 8 truck in Silicon Valley

So I went to a surefire location where I’d see more Lidars than anywhere else in Silicon Valley- the Google X building in Mountain View. Maybe they’d be testing something new there. 

Waymo Road Testing a Peterbilt Class 8 truck in Silicon Valley

Turns out Waymo was. At first it didn’t even register. At the stop sign in front of me I saw a blue big rig. I was in fact just standing there with my Sony A6500 slung over my shoulder ready to capture any self driving car to come my way. But this wasn’t a car, it was a semi-truck. And in looking up I saw it had a Lidar assembly on top. I got fewer photos than I should have. But I got a few. In researching I found out that Google is putting together a few Peterbilt autonomous trucks. Guess they’re trying to compete with OTTO/Uber freight?

And another unlikely autonomous vehicle poked its head out unexpectedly in front of me. I barely caught it, but while scanning the road for Lidar, a Toyota Research Lexus drove right past Google X’s building. 

“Special” stop signs

One new thing that caught my eye was the flags atop the new stop signs. I’m guessing that Waymo’s autonomous vehicles have trouble seeing such signs occasionally. Presumably they figure that out over time. Previously I noticed that there’s a cone permanently placed on an odd stretch of curb near Google X that I assumed was for the same reason.

Well that’s my report from another day in Silicon Valley.

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

 

Roadstar.ai Autonomous Vehicle Sighting

As I was driving around the Streets of Silicon Valley- I stumbled upon yet another in the many contenders for self driving cars. This is a Chinese company with a presence in Cupertino called Roadstar.ai.

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

The Real Streets of Silicon Valley

After dozens of trips chasing the various self driving car projects in Silicon Valley- it’s funny what I really find interesting. This time I staked out Google, Alphabet, Google X, Waymo’s self driving car project. I found not much going on. Sitting in various locations around the campus, I saw maybe 4-5 Self Driving Fiat-Chrysler minivans in an hour.

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

So I moved on to Sunnyvale. There are a couple of car research locations, and two are right across the street from one another: Baidu-Nissan/Renault. Nothing new to see there. In fact the Baidu self driving cars parking spots where I saw them last time were taken by plain old regular cars.

RV on the Streets of Silicon Valley

So I opted to see if there was anything going on with the troubled Yahoo! HQ just two blocks away. And in that short distance between billion dollar companies gleaming Silicon Valley presences, there were some surprises. 

Crosley on the Streets of Silicon Valley

There were beat-up RVs lining part of the road. In between them, was a rusty, itsy bitsy super cute little car. It might have been a similar size to Waymo’s Firefly “pod-car”. But reading between the rust was the name Crosley. The plate was rusty, from Oklahoma expired in 1962.  

Funny how a car-make that was only a footnote in history can be more interesting than the robotic cars the fill news-cycles. I wonder how long until self driving cars are found rusty and derelict on the side of the roads?

Guess Where Silicon Valley – November

Oops, I ran a little late setting up November’s “Guess Where Silicon Valley”. But alas, here it is. Where can you find a bamboo forest in Silicon Valley? And not just any bamboo forest, this is a testing ground for a variety of bamboo types.

Bamboo Garden at Foothill College, Los Altos Hills, California

Remember, as always the stakes are high. Winners may win my long lasting gratitude in addition to the pride of just being a geo-quiz winner.