Google aiming to snap nation’s hard-to-reach locations

BIG PICTURE::The firm began collecting images using car-mounted cameras, but now also uses bicycles, backpacks, trolleys and snowmobiles

Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 - Page 3

Google took its Street View “Trekker” — the compact backpack version of its Street View cars — to Taiwan last week, as company officials said they are preparing to take photographs of the nation’s hard-to-access scenic locations.

The US company has drafted a “wish list” of scenic spots for the Trekker to photograph, including public and private locations, and the company is awaiting approval for taking pictures in these locations, Google Taiwan officials told reporters on Thursday on the sidelines of a media gathering on travel search rankings.

However, representatives of the world’s largest search engine declined to reveal any timetable for the Trekker’s mission or its target numbers of locations, adding that it would make an announcement when it finishes its shooting plan.

The backpack is fitted with a camera system, and its portability enables operators to gather images while maneuvering through tight, narrow spaces or locations only accessible by foot, Google’s Web site said.

The Trekker is operated by an Android-powered device and consists of 15 lenses angled in different directions so that images can be stitched together into 360o panoramic views, which will be featured on the Google Maps service, the company said.

Google started its Street View project in the US in 2007, and collected street images using cars packed with computers, cameras and GPS devices.

To capture more accurate images throughout the world, the project has been expanded to smaller vehicles, such as bicycles, trolleys and snowmobiles, Google said.