Google Street View ‘Trekker’ to capture scenery of Taiwan

Staff writer, with CNA

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - Page 5

Google Inc unveiled its Street View “Trekker” — the compact backpack version of its Street View cars — for the first time in Taiwan yesterday.

Google on June 10 said it was bringing the Trekker to Taiwan to shoot images of scenic spots that Street View vehicles have a hard time reaching.

At a media briefing yesterday, the US firm showed how the Trekker took pictures of the Bitan suspension bridge in New Taipei City (新北市) — which is only open to pedestrians — to include the bridge in its local Street View service.

The device consists of a backpack outfitted with a camera system and its portability enables operators to gather images while maneuvering through narrow spaces or exploring locations reachable only on foot, Google said on its Web site.

The Trekker runs the Android operating system and has 15 lenses angled in different directions so images can be spliced together into 360o panoramic views which will be featured on the Google Maps service, the company said.

Google has already photographed more than 10 hard-to-access locations in Taiwan with the Trekker, Wei said.

Using cameras installed on vehicles such as cars, bicycles and trolleys, Google has captured views of 90 percent of the nation to date for its map services.

The smaller Trekker device is being introduced to image the remaining 10 percent and a contractor has been hired to manage the project, the company said.

“We appreciate the support of the government and local authorities, with whom we will try to promote Taiwan’s beautiful natural scenery,” said Cynthia Wei, manager of Google Street View Greater China and Southeast Asia.

She said Taiwan is the second country in the Asia-Pacific region in which Google is operating a Street View Trekker project, after launching one in Japan last year.

Google started its Street View project in 2007 in the US, collecting images of streets by using cars packed with computers, cameras and GPS devices.