When Street View started it was named ‘Street View’ because it was captured using cameras mounted on the roof of a car driving along streets. Since then Google has been shrinking the equipment, initially fitting it on a trike and later making it small enough to carry on your back known as the Street View trekker.
Click the image to explore in Google Maps’ Street View, or download this KML to find the location in Google Earth. The blue Street View outlines do not show in Google Earth, but if you drag the yellow man directly onto the pin, it should still to take you to the zip line images.
Navigation can be a little difficult and the view directly downwards is not good at all. The technique usually used on roads to erase the Street View car by using imagery from the next spot along the road doesn’t work so well in the air.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen Google use some great techniques to bring Street View imagery to unique places. They’ve taken some of their devices and captured imagery from a snowmobile, a railroad, hiking the Grand Canyon and even diving in the ocean. By loading their Street View “trekker” onto some of the famous gondolas in Venice, we get to experience those canals for ourself!
To show more about how this project came together, Google has put together a great behind-the-scenes series of pages to show what they’ve done, including this video:
The Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world, is now accessible via Street View. Google used a variety of devices and techniques (including the “trekker“) to capture the building and it is absolutely amazing.
You can experience it by using the normal Street View tools in either Google Earth or Google Maps, though it’s a bit tricky to move to different floors. A better bet is to use this Street View gallery to check out the various locations that have been captured.
In addition, Google has created a nice video that shows some of the behind-the-scenes work that made this new imagery possible:
The backback weighs in at around 40 pounds, though it’s apparently a bit top-heavy (as you’d expect). However, humans aren’t the only vehicle that Google is considering for the trekker:
I asked Silverman whether we might see the Trekker make its way to the backs of other beings beyond humans, and he said that they are indeed mulling the idea of strapping versions of it to beasts of burden to help them continue to map the world in images. There are also plans in the works to mount it to remotely operated robots and small vehicles to help get imagery that otherwise wouldn’t be easily reachable by a human Trekker.
TechCrunch writer Darrell Etherington spent a few minutes talking to Google’s Steve Silverman about the trekker, which you can watch here:
Google is really making some bold moves with their various imaging technologies, and the continued expansion of Street View into new areas is only helping to make their products more useful. Check out the full TechCrunch article to learn more.