Google Street View goes cross country

Google Street View goes cross country

There are some travellers who won’t book a hotel without using Google’s Street View service to check out the surrounding neighbourhood. But soon you’ll be able to use it to see some of the most deserted regions of the world, as the internet giant sends its cameras cross country. In the very near future, the middle of nowhere will no longer exist.

Despite initial concerns over privacy and security which did lead to some editing of the service, Street View has continued to flourish, so much so that users can now check out views from river routes through the Amazonian basin, or by snowmobile across Vancouver. But Google’s latest project – sending hundreds of ‘trekkers’ across deserted countryside – looks to be the most ambitious expansion of the service yet.

Google says of its Street View Trekker: “There’s a whole wilderness out there that is only accessible by foot. Street View Trekker solves that problem by enabling us to photograph beautiful places such as the Grand Canyon or Muir Woods so anyone can explore them. All the equipment fits in this one backpack.”

The trekkers are the latest recruits to win the war of digitally mapping the world. As one of the most-used services on the web, maps are big business, and Apple recently announced it was to provide its own 3D mapping service in the next generation of iPhones and iPads, rather than using maps provided by Google.

Apple’s 3D maps are using military-standard cameras attached to low-flying aeroplanes. Meanwhile, Google’s ‘trekkers’ are equipped with a 15-megabyte multi-lens camera in a backpack.

Whichever service comes out on top (though it is likely both will be able to co-exist), the rush to map the world is great news for travellers who prefer to know what awaits them whether they set off on wheels, skis or foot. For those who prefer to not know what’s around the next corner? Leave the smartphone at home.

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