One of the most enjoyable aspects being a commercial photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area, is being given access to the inner sanctums of many of the most innovative companies in the world. Countless times throughout the years I have been brought in to photograph product prototypes months, even years, in advance of their release. In many cases the countless iterations are never viewed by the general public. So many of the coolest stages of development are only seen by a select few.
SRI International is where legions of these innovations begin. It is the foundry, the birthplace of an extensive number of other high tech companies and products. Because of the needed secrecy, I am often asked to sign NDA’s. Hence, I am not always allowed to show multitude of the shots taken. But these few images give a small taste of the exciting inventions with which this wonderful team of people gets to play.
#1 No, this is not Wall-E. Nor his cousin Johnny 5. Although, it certainly appears that J5 was somehow an inspiration. This little guy has been named “Taurus”. And he was designed for urban bomb squad units. Outfitted with cameras, he can help a bomb squad examine, and hopefully disarm a bomb. All while allowing the team to stay at a safe distance.
#2 – Johnny 5’s micro grips can manipulate the finest wires. This is a perfect example of why I keep some of my older lenses around. The Nikon 105mm macro has always been a great lens. But most shooters today probably wouldn’t know how to use it because it is purely manual.
#3 – Johnny 5, (Taurus), at home. Is seen here working to dismantle bomb parts. The dexterity of the robot is truly amazing.
#4 – The full size Taurus robot. Complete with cameras and track system. All remotely controlled. I don’t want to mess with this guy.
#5 – A little underwater robotics. To scare the scuba divers, I guess.
#6 – Guts of a walking robot. The SRI Team is building a life-size walking robot to enter into a robot competition.
#7 – The future grip of the walking robot. Quite a tight handshake.
#8 – Just a few of the young, fun, exciting people behind the robots. This is one aspect that I was not expecting. In all honestly, I had a preconceived notion that these inventors would all be mature in years. I assumed they would be wise, but certainly not energetic, hip and socially active. Boy was I wrong. Everyone I met at SRI was enthused about their jobs, their projects, their futures. They made me feel energized too. And part of a wonderful, innovative team.
OK ,it’s true, this is not a Robot. It’s an Super Suit!. It is made to help the wearer carry up to 300% more gear. Pretty amazing stuff really. We also shot the Super Suit while on location at SRI, I really wanted to try it on.