Photographers and brothers Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas came up with an idea they hoped would allow them to get close to dangerous or shy African wildlife without putting themselves at risk (or just spoiling a shot, besides). The solution? Strap a Canon 400D DSLR to a robotic platform with wheels, and control it from a jeep 150 feet away.
Unfortunately for the newly christened "BeetleCam," small, adorable robots and wild animals don't always mix. Just ask the elephants the brothers sneaked up on:
We thought that Elephants would be an easy subject for BeetleCam's first outing. We were wrong... we quickly learned that Elephants are wary of unfamiliar objects and due to their highly sensitive hearing, they are almost impossible to sneak up on! Over the course of the trip, we learnt that the best way to photograph an elephant was to position the camera well in front of it and then let the animal approach in its own time. With this technique we enjoyed great success and managed to get some incredible photos of these colossal creatures.
Or, worse, the lions:
After obtaining our first photographs of Elephants we were buoyed with optimism and decided to make our second subjects Lions. In hindsight this was a foolish idea; BeetleCam was promptly mauled, and carried off into the bush. A long recovery mission ensued and we were extremely lucky to retrieve an intact memory card from the mangled Canon 400D body. On downloading the images, we were delighted to find that BeetleCam had performed its duty admirably, and we got a great series of images from the encounter.
As for the intrepid robotic cam, the pair of photographers are currently hard at work creating a successor. Check out a video of the BeetleCam's travels below.