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Google Tricycles To Map Footpaths For Street View 274

Posted by kdawson
from the hope-they-are-well-insured dept.
CNETNate writes "To advance its Street View service this summer, Google is poised to unleash the unstoppable power of human legs. Google will deploy pedal-powered tricycles — the company calls them 'Google Trikes' — mounted with 360 degree Street View cameras to map areas inaccessible by its fleet of Street View cars." The article indicates that the trikes will first see use in the UK, to map out public walking paths, but one anonymous commenter said: "This must be bogus — you are not allowed to cycle on public footpaths in the UK, I can't believe Google would have overlooked such a fundamental fact. Not to mention that the vehicle pictured wouldn't fit down most paths." PC World features the trikes in Rome.
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Google Tricycles To Map Footpaths For Street View

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  • Hmmm . . . . (Score:2, Interesting)

    by arizwebfoot (1228544) *
    Do they (Google) actually pay you to do that?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JCSoRocks (1142053)
      Good luck when you hit a set of stairs! Those pictures will turn out *awesome*.
    • by hplus (1310833)
      That was my first thought, too. I want this job!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stephanruby (542433)
        I don't know. If the natives are going to come after me with their pitchforks, I'd rather be in a vehicle with better get away speed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:44PM (#28014343)

    "The article indicates that the trikes will first see use in the UK"

    He then goes on to link to pictures of them actually being used in Rome. Did the UK annex Rome?

  • Next up: (Score:5, Funny)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:44PM (#28014345) Journal
    Google Sherpa!
  • by jsnipy (913480) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:48PM (#28014397) Journal
    Soon there will be "Google Stuff in Your House" where a half dozen guys dressed head to toe in black with head mounted cameras will rifle through your belongings, cabinets, and drawers. So when you loose your cars keys, just Google it!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      http://farm1.static.flickr.com/108/261905722_d2912c0465.jpg It's already been done!

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Don't have to try this link.
      Google [google.com]

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:07PM (#28014715) Journal
      I'm not sure you thought your cunning plan all the way through.

      Me: Honey, where did I put my car keys?
      Her: I don't know dear, just fucking google it.
      Me: OK, according to Google they are on the keyhook next to the door... WTF? They aren't there!
      Her: Oh, that's right, dear, the Googol Housecrawling Spiders of Doom haven't been through since last Tuesday. That's where they were then.

      Me: Fucking useless GoogleHouse app. At least they helpfully recorded the combination when I unlocked my safe.
      • by noidentity (188756) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:34PM (#28015169)

        Me: OK, according to Google they are on the keyhook next to the door... WTF? They aren't there!
        Her: Oh, that's right, dear, the Googol Housecrawling Spiders of Doom haven't been through since last Tuesday. That's where they were then.
        Me: Fucking useless GoogleHouse app.[...]

        There's always Google's cached copy of them...

      • by Clovis42 (1229086) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @04:08PM (#28016637)

        Shortly after I showed Google Earth to my Mom, she came to me with a question. A friend of hers wanted to know if I could get photos of someone who broke into her house. That's right; satellite images of a specific time (at night!) that were good enough that you could actually identify the people in them, on google, for free. Now, maybe the CIA can do this....

        I remember being amazed at what was offered on Google Earth when it first came out. It is always surprising when someone else thinks that a technology can do something that is insanely more complicated than what I was amazed by.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Red Flayer (890720)

          I remember being amazed at what was offered on Google Earth when it first came out. It is always surprising when someone else thinks that a technology can do something that is insanely more complicated than what I was amazed by.

          Isn't this a problem we all often encounter at work? Those who do not understand the technology or process do not understand the limits of the technology or the process.

          I've a coworker, a "well-seasoned" gentleman, who does not understand internal combustion engines, nor basic chem

    • My brother photoshopped that concept: http://www.b3ta.com/board/5779869 [b3ta.com]
      • by fava (513118) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @03:26PM (#28015949)

        Considering the scale bars at the bottom are set to 200 miles, then I would say its a pretty big flat.

        There would be no problem seeing it from orbit, the coffee table is 100 miles by 200 miles just by itself, and the rug is a massive 700 miles square.

        Your brother must be rich to afford a flat that big!

    • by noidentity (188756) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:31PM (#28015119)

      So when you loose your cars keys, just Google it!

      Wouldn't tightening them be more appropriate?

  • I wonder if I should not make a space for a camera on my child's helmet... Any offer?
    • by xaxa (988988)

      I wonder why the guy in the picture is even wearing a helmet. It's difficult to fall off a tricycle.

  • google + scuba = ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by skathe (1504519) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:48PM (#28014411)

    gooba? scoogle? scooble?

    just attach cameras to aquatic lifeforms and let us swim the depths of the oceans from our computers... no chance of being stabbed in the heart by a stingray, either!

  • LIDAR? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CraftyJack (1031736) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:48PM (#28014417)
    It looks like the mast has 3 lidar eyes on it. How does StreetView use lidar?
    • Re:LIDAR? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:53PM (#28014501)

      By attaching it to their masts.

    • by EkriirkE (1075937)
      Terrain/topographical details?
    • by CXI (46706)
      Hey, if you are mapping, why not grab all the data up front you might need later? Think about it. The cars use LIDAR too.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yokaze (70883)

      First of, that are likely four LIDARs. Two horizontal (forward-backward), two vertical (left-right).
      My semi-educated guess:
      - Horizontal: Kind of SLAM [wikipedia.org]: Creating a map and improving the own position accuracy (as initially determined by GPS) through a map.
      - Vertical: 3D surface-reconstruction.

  • by starglider29a (719559) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:53PM (#28014505)
    ...until SKYNET uses this data to track us to our hiding places in the woods!!!
  • I can just imagine (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KingPin27 (1290730) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:55PM (#28014537)
    With as much animosity as google street views has already been met with
    http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/04/02/1731231
    http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/13/0055234
    I can just imagine what these guys riding around on bikes will meet up with - Can anyone say moving target?
  • by One Louder (595430) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:59PM (#28014593)
    I was a Seaworld in San Diego a few weeks back and one of these was driving around the various pathways taking shots for Street View. Haven't seen the data go live yet, though.
    • I saw a Google bicycle months ago on the Penn State campus. IIRC it was an ordinary bike towing a trailer that was tricked out with that same type of camera.

  • This is the 21st Century. Where's my flying StreetView camera?
    • by wjh31 (1372867)
      you mean like google maps aerial photos? or the birdseye view on live maps?
  • by randomchicagomac (809764) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:00PM (#28014605)
    As a bicyclist, I'd love it if google had decent maps of off-street bike paths, such that I could use google maps' normal direction-finding feature with these. I've lived in lots of cities with numerous such paths, and they're usually out of the way and hard to find if you don't already know that they're there. It would be great to have a feature that a) lets me find them, and b) tells me exactly how far out of my way I'd need to go for the added safety/pleasantness of using them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It would be great to have a feature that a) lets me find them, and b) tells me exactly how far out of my way I'd need to go for the added safety/pleasantness of using them.

      And hookers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Phroggy (441)

        And Blackjack!

        In fact, forget the bike paths! And the Blackjack.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by julian67 (1022593)
      Unfortunately the Google trike is far to wide to access many UK cycle paths. Many have a small barrier which allows bicycles (though forces rider to dismount) but prevents small vehicles and tricycles and any but the smallest motorcycles from passing. Also many cycle paths are in any case so ridiculously narrow that a substantial trike has no chance. Urban paths often share traffic light controlled crossings with footpaths and these again are often too narrow for a trike. Then there are the cycle paths
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by xaxa (988988)

        My guess is that it will give Google access to the many urban streets which only allow taxis, public buses, emergency vehicles, and bicycles during the day. This is extremely common.

        I think you're correct there. For instance, most of Oxford Street (London) isn't on Streetview because it's buses/taxis/cycles only.
        They can also do public squares, pedestrian/cycling-only streets etc. They can even do no-cycling areas if they wheel the tricycle.

  • by wowbagger (69688) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:02PM (#28014641) Homepage Journal

    Actually, extending StreetView to things off the street makes sense to me, for certain values of "things off the street" - there's a few businesses and the like I'd like to see mapped.

    Example: I'd like to see my local zoo [scz.org] or one of our local museums [oldcowtown.org] set up so that I could use my GPS to find my way around - and being able to see some of the exhibits would be a bonus.

    If *I* ran those places, I'd be begging Google to scan my site!

    • so that I could use my GPS to find my way around - and being able to see some of the exhibits would be a bonus.

      So you want someone else to take pictures of your zoo and a museum so you can use an electronic device to find your way around said places?

      Huh, and here I thought the zoo [scz.org] and museum [oldcowtown.org] had already thought of ways to let people navigate the exhibits.

      Unless you meant you want to view these places on your small monitor instead of physically visiting them and getting all the sensory feedbac
      • by wowbagger (69688)

        And when will Macrobee integrate GPS into PDF in a fashion my N800 can use to show me exactly where I am, or where I took a wrong turn and missed the animal exhibit I was looking for?

        Also, there is the idea of "Do I want to visit this?" - do YOU know if you'd want to visit the Sedgwick County Zoo? How can you tell if it is a bunch of concrete cages with sickly animals or a well-run zoo with really good exhibits? After all, NO zoo is going to say on their website "We SUCK!" Being able to take a quick spin ar

    • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:26PM (#28015029)
      I always get lost walking the many trails at the local nudist colony -- do you think Google could come out and map these for me?
  • That would be a killer to try and ride with that much chain slack.

    Likely the tension wheels are just temporarily missing.

    It is the small details in photos (especially the street views) that cause the problems. The overall intent does not matter.

  • One day -- likely -- Google will have an anatomical map of the human body online. You know what this means...?

    Google anal probe. Maybe they could call it the g-Oatse?
    • The could call it iNtestine. I suppose that would probably annoy Apple. Oh dear, how sad, never mind!
  • There are plenty of places that would be interesting to map that are closed to traffic but open to bikes. Many European cities have city-centers that are just so.
  • by BiloxiGeek (872377) * on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:12PM (#28014811)
    History has shown that the human leg is an often untapped behemoth of energy, having in the past powered generators, submarines and, of course, deep space hair dryers aboard Red Dwarf.

    Next thing you know they'll be reporting that Lister has been hired to peddle the thing around London. They tried to hire Cat but he was afraid being outside in the summer heat and humidity would ruin his fantastically perfect hairdo.
  • ... for my mobile porn data center.

  • by lullabud (679893) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:17PM (#28014875) Homepage

    Regardless of whether Google is going to use Tricycles, they're not the first to market with this feature. http://www.mapjack.com/ [mapjack.com] already has many many trails mapped out, things that bicycles may even have a hard time on.

  • Google House View. This would be a map of the interior of people's houses made by people wearing backpacks with cameras mounted on top. This will be part of the new Google search that will help you locate items in your home. Google "where are my keys" and get back "Your keys are on the dresser." with a map pointing to your dresser.
  • by PinchDuck (199974) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:27PM (#28015035)

    awesome. To the best of my knowledge, GPS's will show rivers, but if you are paddling on one, it won't give you a great ETA. Google Rivers, on the other hand, could record average current speed and all the bends in the river to a genuine geocoded object instead of a dumb jpeg. That would be pretty sweet.

  • Profit!!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by johnlcallaway (165670) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:30PM (#28015101)
    Just add some bells and a freezer and it can further add to Google revenue!!!
  • Why they didn't buy a bunch of Segways for it, is beyond me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fiannaFailMan (702447)

      Why they didn't buy a bunch of Segways for it, is beyond me.

      Trikes are cheaper to buy than Segways which start at $2,400.

      Trikes are cheaper to maintain than Segways.

      Trikes are easier to maintain than Segways since all you need is a regular bike mechanic that can be found in any good bike store.

      Segways require electrical power just to stand up, that kind of power costs money. Trikes don't use any power when standing up because they've got three wheels.

      Segways require electrical power to operate, trikes don't and hence have a lower carbon footprint.

      Segways have to be

    • by hplus (1310833)
      Really? I'd love to spend the summer pedaling one of these around all of the bike paths around here. Can't say the same about a segway.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nerdposeur (910128)
      Segways are always tilting forward and back. Bicycles are always tilting side to side. Trikes stay pretty level. That probably makes it easier to stitch together all the photos.
  • Next, Google autonomous aircraft. Big ones for overall views, little ones for street views. Small boats for waterways and coastlines.

    Then, Google Humans. Face pictures of everybody on the planet.

    Laugh now. Someday they'll be in charge.

  • Street views of addresses I understand. I find it helpful to have a picture of where I'm trying to find.

    Why would someone want this service? Are their vendors on the path like in World of Warcraft that google wants to map? I can see google maps giving directions like 20 yards exit the tree stump on the right.

    • by hplus (1310833)
      Your comment about the tree stump is spot-on, actually. The paths around here (the ones not parallel to a road, at least) have a number of paved entryways that you are supposed to use. It is often easy (and faster) to exit/enter the trail at a non-designated point, but you can't tell where this will be possible with just a map.
  • by rlp (11898)

    Perhaps they should use something more like this [wikimedia.org].

  • The so-called Google Trike, which the company describes "a mechanical masterpiece comprising 3 bicycle wheels...

    Mechanical masterpiece? Let's see:

    Disc Brakes on the front? Not needed unless you plan on taking this thing in the rain.
    Suspension: Yes in the front, but glaringly missing in the rear, which you'd want for stability.
    Safety: Didn't see any reflectors on it
    Convenience: Not even a water bottle holder. I guess

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:55PM (#28015459)

    Why is it ok in the public eye for google to do this, but when the gov't does this it's BigBrother and 1984 all over again?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Murpster (1274988)
      It's not OK in my opinion. Google is turning pretty Big Brothery with shit like this and the cell phone location thing and other stupidness. If I ever see one of these or their cars, I'll make sure they don't get any images they can use haha. Screw Google. Time for them to go the way of Enron.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by smellsofbikes (890263)

      Presumably coz Google doesn't have tens of thousands of armed employees legally empowered to kill.

  • That guy [cnet.co.uk] looks real fuckin' happy about it too. Blissful, I believe is the word.

  • From what I remember living there a few years back, Foot Path is a term as likely to mean "sidewalk" or "alleyway" as it is to mean "walking path in the wilderness". I suspect this will be used for both rural and urban walking areas, and that it will be allowed even in places where cycles aren't. (Even if it's just a "turn a blind eye" sort of thing.)
  • by Kaz Riprock (590115) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @03:30PM (#28016011)

    I shall be twittering this with a sigh
    On someone's blogs and blogs hence:
    Two paths diverged in a wood, and I--
    I took the one less googled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

    --RFrostie1977

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. -- Woody Allen

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