Google's Street View Sherpas Tackle the Grand Canyon

By Alexis C. Madrigal

Despite all our robots, humans really are the best at certain tasks, like hiking the Grand Canyon.

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Google's Ryan Falor with a backpack and an Android phone (Google).

We're all familiar with the Google Street View cars at this point (and their Nokia cousins). They go buzzing around cities capturing data from the physical world. But there are places they cannot go, places that Google would really like to have imagery of, for example, say, the Grand Canyon. 

And so, Google being Google, they hacked together a solution: a backpack topped with the camera orb we know from the company's cars. The Trekker, as they call this new gear, is controlled via an (Android, obviously) phone and captures imagery automatically. 

The company showed off the Trekker in a June video and the Grand Canyon trip is its first official outing. Google stitches together these still images into the panoramas that you see on its maps site. 

The really exciting thing, though, is that you might someday see a guy outfitted like this walking through your local mall. Google, and all the other map companies, are hot to create indoor maps that are as good as their outdoor ones. The Trekker is one way they could do that. (Although certainly not the only way.)

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This is actually how everyone from Google looks when they go hiking. Except Sergey. He gets the glasses. (Google)

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/10/googles-street-view-sherpas-tackle-the-grand-canyon/264037/