• May 21, 2009
Google has already faced plenty of issues with its Street View technology, not the least of which has been angry Japanese citizens and invasion of privacy lawsuits from Americans whose driveways were mistaken for a roads. Beyond these unforeseen issues, there's also the rather obvious problem of taking images of places a Chevy Cobalt just can't reach. Consider that problem (at least partially) solved with the new Google Trike.

The three-wheeled, human-powered overgrown tricycles carry 250 pounds of ballast in the form of "a mounted Street View camera and a specially decorated box containing image collecting gadgetry," says the internet giant. All that extra heft reportedly requires a "specially trained super fit" rider.

Google's new trikes will be deployed first in Genoa, Italy, this spring. Assuming that launch proves successful, Google will send its pedal-powered cameras to the United Kingdom, where they'll point their lenses towards a slew of famous British landmarks. Have a good one in mind? Google says its open to suggestions and will be working with VisitBritain to pick the most desirable locations to shoot.

To assuage those averse to getting their pictures taken, Google promises to "apply our face-blurring and license plate blurring to all these images to protect people's privacy."

[Source: Google via Wired]

PRESS RELEASE:

Trike with a view

Google & VisitBritain poll British public for the best spots for the Street View Trike to visit this summer

We've heard from people around the UK that they'd like us to include even more images of our national tourist treasures in Street View and put Britain's famous landmarks on the map. That's why we're giving people a sneak preview of our latest groundbreaking invention - the Google Trike. This mechanical masterpiece comprises 3 bicycle wheels, a mounted Street View camera and a specially decorated box containing image collecting gadgetry. It comes replete with a very athletic cyclist in customised Google apparel.

The Trikes have the same capability as Street View cars for collecting street-level imagery and are designed to help Google make special imagery collections in places less accessible by cars such as historic landmarks.

We can also reveal that we're polling the British public for suggestions of extra special tourist spots, such as historic castles or famous landmarks, that the trike might visit. Google has teamed up with VisitBritain, with their unrivaled knowledge of Britain's tourist treasures, to devise 5 categories under which people can submit their ideas. The categories are: Castles, Coastal paths, Natural Wonders, Historic Buildings & Monuments and (Sports) Stadiums. We'll then work with VisitBritain to choose the most original ideas from each category. The public will then be able to cast their final votes to choose the top 3 locations the Google Trike will visit first.

People can send us their ideas via an online form linked to from: maps.google.co.uk/streetviewinfo As we only collect images from public roads we'll work closely with the relevant organizations to collect images of privately-owned locations.

Justin Reid, Head of Online Marketing for VisitBritain said:
"We were only too happy to join forces with Google for the UK launch of Street View. The new trike will enable us to showcase even more of Britain's wonderful destinations and we look forward to some great ideas from the public."

The trike will be starting in Genoa, Italy where we'll be making the most of the good weather to collect images. The trike is expected to land on British shores later in the summer.

Due to operational factors such as light levels and the weather (and what could be a pretty tired cyclist), the trike will only be in the UK for a limited time during the summer. Images collected by the trike will be processed and carefully stitched together, a technological process that can take several months. They will be made available at a later date in Street View on Google Maps.

About Street View in UK

Street View is a hugely popular feature of Google Maps which is already available in more than 100 metropolitan areas around the world. It is also available in Google Earth and on Google Maps for Mobile. We launched Street View imagery in UK in April allowing people to view and navigate 360 degree street-level imagery in 25 British towns.

In areas where Street View is available, you can access street-level imagery by zooming into the lowest level on Google Maps, or by dragging the orange "Pegman" icon on the left-hand side of the map onto a blue highlighted street. You can check out a restaurant before arriving, make travel plans, arrange meeting points, get a helping hand with geography homework, or just explore and get to know your town better.

As well as consumers, UK businesses can also benefit from the Street View technology by embedding Google Maps directly into their site for free, helping them to promote a chain of hotels or increase awareness of a local library or restaurant.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can already see these getting hijacked or stolen...
        • 5 Years Ago
        What is this "hijacking" you speak of? We have never heard about this in Europe.

        It actually is unfamiliar to us Europeans, I have never even heard of one happening in my country.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Not such a great idea for photographing pedestrianised streets in the UK. It's illegal to ride a bicycle or tricycle on pavements or in pedestrianised zones, so the Googlers are going to have to be able to shift that 250lb of ballast faster than your average copper can run if they want to avoid getting tickets :D
      • 5 Years Ago
      I like Google Street View. It helps me see where I am going. Plus, I found my old RSX type S on there! Haa..

      http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Jxmb7mn0Jwut3bbDQuWUSw?authkey=Gv1sRgCJjx-riFr42y7AE&feat=directlink
      • 5 Years Ago
      They need to get those drifting trike drivers to pilot these. Lots of sideways views of mountain roads.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, but the directions would be screwed up. As you're traveling straight down the road, you'd see the side of a mountain :p
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sideways view?

        Doesn't it take a 360° picture?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Instead of shying away, I think people should embrace Street View and twitter the location of the bike, so that they can run out and line up to fashion a pose.

      Y M C A
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't understand why so much gear is required -- a couple of back-to-back digital cameras with fisheye lenses mounted on a pole and big memory cards ought to do the trick. Wire to a mobile computer to trip the shutters and download the images over USB connections and there you go. Should be able to do under 10 lbs and mounted in a backpack of some kind.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Most of that equipment includes the GPS, gyro and IMU so that they can reference the taken photo to what the real-world view would look like. Your idea might work for a couple of photos, but the added work to georeference thousands and thousands of photos easily justifies having more precise devices do the work for you more quickly and accurately.

        Plus, the increased precision of these devices, over a standard consumer GPS reciever for instance, tends to often increase their size and weight.

        For instance, the camera and equipment I use when doing aerial mapping can easily weigh 400-500lbs. The camera alone is about 200lbs of that. It's not as simple as hanging a point and shoot camera out the window.

        Here's one such camera we utilize, http://www.zeiss.com/c12567a8003b58b9/Contents-Frame/3b4c54f1c3f636c7c1256f2c002b7dbd
      • 5 Years Ago
      They're already using these in San Diego. Coworker spotted one riding downtown just yesterday.
      http://gizmodo.com/5255361/google-street-view-employs-high+tech-tricycles-for-hard+to+reach-places
      • 5 Years Ago
      Most of that equipment includes the GPS, gyro and IMU so that they can reference the taken photo to what the real-world view would look like. Your idea might work for a couple of photos, but the added work to georeference thousands and thousands of photos easily justifies having more precise devices do the work for you more quickly and accurately.

      Plus, the increased precision of these devices, over a standard consumer GPS reciever for instance, tends to often increase their size and weight.

      For instance, the camera and equipment I use when doing aerial mapping can easily weigh 400-500lbs. The camera alone is about 200lbs of that. It's not as simple as hanging a point and shoot camera out the window.

      Here's one such camera we utilize, http://www.zeiss.com/c12567a8003b58b9/Contents-Frame/3b4c54f1c3f636c7c1256f2c002b7dbd
        • 5 Years Ago
        Disregard, reply error.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't understand why people star screaming about invasion of privacy when all Google is doing is capturing what anyone can see at any time. Are these same people going to sue tourists that capture them walking by in the background?
      • 5 Years Ago
      "will be deployed first in Genoa"?the fountain in the photo is Trevi fountain (Rome).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Put a 100cc engine on that thing at least, 250 pounds is gonna be a PITA.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Shouldn't be much different than the bike taxis I see around the downtown area of bigger cities. Add a couple of patrons onto those as you'd easily surpass 250lbs of added weight.
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