Google has just released new Street View imagery for the first time in another country other than the US. What better place than France in July? Just in time for the Tour de France. One of my early favorite KML file collections depicted the routes of the Tour de France. It’s amazing to tilt your view and see the difficult climbs and distances the racers have to endure. This year, I already pointed to a collection showing the 2008 Tour de France routes for Google Earth by Thomas Vergouwen. Use this to find the actual routes while viewing the Street View layer. The new Street Views in France are higher quality than most of those in the US. Turn on the Street View layer in Google Earth. Zoom in close in France to find a camera icon along a route you want to look at. Click on a camera and follow the link to “Jump into Street View”. The quality of some of these photos is really good. I particularly like some of the shots in the French Alps. Double-click on the gold camera icons to fly to other images. Of course, you can also use Google Maps to view the French Street Views.
NOTE: I’m still looking for someone to release a network link so you can track the race live in Google Earth (like was done last year). In the meantime, there is a Google Maps mashup that lets you track a couple of the racers and see the Street View imagery at the same time. Check out UbiLabs live Tour de France tracker in Google Maps.
via Google Operating System
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.
frank, do you know if this is google footage or 3rd party material???
i’m very happy that most is high resolution footage, especially in GE it’s very obvious that the quality is stunning, just like in san francisco… new york or los angeles is low resolution and for most purposes not suitable since even large sign can’t be read…
This is Brilliant, Finally Google has moved across the pond, Hopefully we will soon see the rest of Europe.
Mark McKamey says
Now we just need the live network link of the race in real time and connect the whole thing to my exercise bike. Presto, “race against the pros!” May be helpful to add some real time virtual bikers as well to the live feed for a even more realistic ride.
I, too, am wondering about the resolution of Street View imagery. These French images are nice, just what I’d expect. But the images I see for the US, even the latest round, are much, much fuzzier. Even large signs next to the road are illegible.
I’m curious as to the tech. details. What resolution is being used in the respective photos, and will the US imagery be updated/improved over time?
When this last US Street View update occured, I read that they were using higher-resolution cameras, but I sure didn’t see the resulting higher-resolution imagery.
Mark: I think that you will be able to track TdF in realtime here http://www.orangedansletour.com/gps.php
in the page source you can find this network link http://free.3dtracking.net/live.kmz?guid=f6070e1f-79f2-425b-bc90-079fcf8146b2 so you can use it in GE too
now… connecting the kml to your bike is up to you 😉
With the usual patience needed to use Street View it’s possible to get some very interesting images of places along the route of the Tour.
But I would question whether the result is remotely like the experience of riding or following the Tour. The streets in the images are full of traffic – cleared for the tour = and there is none of the essential razzmatazz.
Also, is there a way to spot the line of Street View camera icons to move straight to the route of the Tour from a reasonably high altitude over a region the Tour passes through, or do you have to get this via the KML files?
Another query: there are more than one line of Street View camera icons in places, so, whilst this is fine to see more images of some wonderful towns and countryside, does it mean that the route was not finally decided everywhere at the time of photography, and how will the final route of the Tour be indicated?
Street View camera icons now come progressively into view when zooming in over France, so it looks like altitude settings may have been adjusted early on.
It also looks as though the camera cars took the advantage to wander around places along the route of the Tour so that we could enjoy looking round too, which is nice, but can leave the actual route of the race uncertain.
There’s a link on the Tour official site to a short promotional video (in French) on Street View for the race in Google Maps
and it is definetly google footage, not collected by a 3rd party!
google is scanning the EU right now, GB, Germany, France, Italy and spain will be online shortly.
it looks like cities over the threshold 500k inhabitants will get street view coverage in those countries.
confirmed sightings in germany are:
berlin, hamburg, frankfurt, bremen and munich.
in the rest of the EU:
spain: valencia, barcelona and madrid
italy: milano, rome
GB: london, oxford
paris sacre coeur: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2191/2534535956_6f8154e72b.jpg?v=0
amsterdam, google EU HQ: http://img.skitch.com/20080704-jus3pa44awa4swftexbqcg55ns.jpg
rottterdam (small in background): http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3089/2578557942_b732f91b1d.jpg?v=0
french autobahn (photographer on route from germany to spain): http://img.skitch.com/20080704-8kwfb1rgxefmfkwc2gnds28i2m.jpg
took me quite some time to search flickr!
I’m thrilled with the France and Italy additions. Only disappointment with France is that the locations I’m viewing now were photographed on cloudy days – would have been nice to see some of these spots on a sunny day. But, resolution is terrific – no complaints there.
I hope the photography for the other EU nations will be as high quality; the Street View article in Wikipedia blames the new face-blurring technology for the recent lower-res photography for some of the U.S. locations, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue for the France pictures.
flickr pool for google street view cars: http://www.flickr.com/groups/616736@N20/
i agree, the blur process has nothing to do with it.
there’s three generations of google street view hardware… those metal rod on top of the cars…
check this pool on flickr to see the different hardware setups: http://www.flickr.com/groups/616736@N20/
the latest is huge, with laser distance measurements equipment, i’m not sure what that might be for, but if it has to do with the much improved resolution, i’m all for it;-)
no, really, i think google scans the surroundings with laser and maps everything in 3D, they not only take photographs, but also the real dimensions in order to be able to put those photographs into a 3D enviornment… like the 3D layer in google earth, just much higher resolution and higher attention to detail… when that goes online one can actually walk thru cities in google earth, or it can be integrated into navigation devices for driving instructions!!!
Are Google planning to do the same again with the 2009 Tour de France route?
Is this accurate? I have been trying to create a path in Google Earth and it does not overlap at all. What can I do to get it to overlap exactly?