Monday, August 10, 2009

Google's Street View Maps of Paris: Maps using tricycle

The goofy-looking tricycle equipped with loads of high-tech equipment roaming the streets is not some mad scientist's invention on the rampage. The three-wheeler is quite a sight with its long pole holding nine cameras, a GPS, a computer and a generator. But the contraption tooling around the French capital needs all that gear to do its job — adding three-dimensional images to Google's Street View Maps.

The U.S. company has hired two young cyclists to ride through gardens, historical sites and other pedestrian-only areas to take thousands of digital photos. The riders, wearing Google tee-shirts and white helmets, are visiting well-known sites such as the Chateau de Versailles, west of Paris, the Jardin du Luxembourg on the city's Left Bank and Les Halles, in the busy center of the French capital.

The company plans to add new photos to their Street View option in all French cities with tourist areas. Similar tricycles already combed the streets of Britain and Italy in June and July. Google plans to make 3-D maps of streets in other European countries, but the schedule has not yet been set.

When the camera snaps a photo, everything — faces and license plates included_ is in focus. Special software then blurs the picture. Spotted Friday at La Defense, the tricycle looked decidedly out of place at the modern high-rise business center on Paris' western edge.

A clunky white pole in the back holds an octagonal platform with eight cameras on the sides and one on top. Every minute, the cameras take bursts of high-definition photos to allow online users to get a virtual tour of the area. The photos of Paris and other major French cities to follow were expected to be available online by the end of the year.


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