Using Street View cars to check for gas leaks

Most of you have heard about Google’s issues with Street View card and wi-fi sniffing. Regardless your thoughts on that, you’re bound to appreciate what the cars are now able to sniff: gas leaks.

According to an article by Trevor Mogg on Digital Trends, Google is beginning to test out cars that include methane sensors to check for gas leaks.

From the article:

The initiative turned up “thousands” of leaks from utility pipes beneath the streets, providing officials with data on pollution “that used to be invisible,” EDF’s Fred Krupp wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

Fortunately these leaks don’t pose any immediate threat to safety, and the utilities will monitor and deal with the more serious ones. However, EDF noted that such gas “has a powerful effect on the global climate, packing up to 120 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide.”

Here is an early map that has been generated by this new data:

street view methane sniffing

It’s a great idea, and hopefully it will be added to additional cars over time. There’s seemingly quite a few other pieces of data that could be useful to measure when you have an army of GPS-tracked cars driving around; weather data, road quality, etc. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes in the future.

Be sure to check out the full article on the Digital Trends website.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. Methane is about 20 times more impactful then CO2.
    Where the heck does the “120 times” figure come from?

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