PictEarth Flies UAV with N95 Over WhereCamp

PictEarth Googleplex in Google EarthDuring WhereCamp this weekend, the guys from PictEarth flew a remote controlled plane over the Googleplex with a Nokia N95 cellphone onboard taking photos. They first flew the plane in the morning when the winds were lighter and the sun angle was high. What’s really cool, is that within a couple of hours, they had selected photos processed such that they could be viewed in Google Earth. They uploaded them to the free imagery server called OpenAerialMap.org. First, you load the OpenAerialMap KML file and then fly to the Googleplex by following this KML . The imagery is super-overlayed which means it will load multiple zoom levels with more details as you get closer. You will see the imagery PictEarth took around 10:00 AM on Saturday May 17th during WhereCamp. Since this was there first run with a new plane, they didn’t tell any of the attendees who were inside attending sessions. So, there aren’t many people to be found in the imagery.
PictEarth’s founder, David Riallant came from France to attend WhereCamp. Also involved was Jeff Johnson and Stewart Long from the USA branch of PictEarth. Stewart flew the plane. Here are some photos and video clips showing them setting up and flying the plane later in the day (NOTE: you have to click on the images to view the video clips at PicasaWeb):

For some reason, the famous “Google Pool” looks different in their imagery:
Google Pool Shots

For those of you who don’t know, it used to be that Google had photoshopped the Google logo on the bottom of their pool in Google Earth as shown in the screenshot above (now the base imagery shows the pool to have no logo). So, PictEarth was going to show the photoshop with their logo in the pool, but for some reason they didn’t include it for the OpenAerialMap imagery.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Gage Morrow says:

    I am a Junior at Mountain Vista Governors school and, as part of our research class curriculum, we are required to come up with a two year research project that will be completed our senior year. I am very interested in aerospace engineering and robotics so I wanted to research something about homemade UAVs. After doing some background research, I came across some videos of people making homemade UAVs, which took pictures of the ground and assigned GPS locations to these pictures, which could then be viewed in Google earth. This kind of thing would be perfect for a research idea, so I wanted to see if I could get in contact with anyone who knows a lot about making homemade UAVs. If anyone has any knowledge of making homemade planes with cameras, or knows how to get in contact with someone who does, please send me an email at: wcrunner@embarqmail.com. It would be greatly appreciated

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