Google takes to skies for 3D mapping
By Reuters and Nicole Kobie
Posted on 7 Jun 2012 at 08:33
Google is deploying a fleet of small, camera-equipped airplanes above several cities, the latest step in its ambitious and sometimes controversial plan to create a digital map of the world.
Google plans to release the first three-dimensional maps for several cities by the end of the year.
Google declined to name the cities, but it showed a demonstration of a 3D map of San Francisco, in which a user can navigate around an aerial view of the city.
"We're trying to create the illusion that you're just flying over the city, almost as if you were in your own personal helicopter," said Peter Birch, a product manager for Google Earth.
We're trying to create the illusion that you're just flying over the city, almost as if you were in your own personal helicopter
Google's head of engineering for its maps product, Brian McClendon, said the company was using a fleet of airplanes owned and operated by contractors and flying exclusively for Google.
Asked about potential privacy implications, McClendon said the privacy issues were similar to all aerial imagery and that the type of 45-degree-angle pictures that the planes take have been used for a long time.
Google has used airplanes to collect aerial photos in the past, such as following the 2010 San Bruno, California gas-line explosion, but the latest effort marks the first time the company will deploy the planes in a systemic manner to build a standard feature in one of its products.
By the end of the year, Google said it expects to have 3D map coverage for metropolitan areas with a combined population of 300 million people. The first 3D cityscape will be available within weeks.
Asked if Google had any plans to use unmanned aerial drones to gather photos for its 3D cityscapes, McClendon said it was an interesting question, but noted that drones were still being evaluated by the Federal Aviation Administration.
"That's a larger can of worms that we're not going to get into here," he said.
Google's StreetView project created controversy from the ground, with its fleet of camera cars raising privacy concerns - even before it was discovered the cars were sniffing Wi-Fi networks and had inadvertently collected personal data.
The company also announced a version of Google maps for Android smartphones that allows users to access certain maps without an internet connection within a few weeks. "Users will be able to take maps offline from more than 100 countries," McClendon said. "This means that the next time you are on the subway, or don’t have a data connection, you can still use our maps."
The forthcoming 3D city maps will be part of the Google Earth software app available for mobile devices such as smartphones based on Google's Android software and Apple's iOS software.
McClendon said the company would continue to make Google maps services available as widely as possible, on "all platforms".
Apple is planning to replace Google Maps as the built-in mapping service on its iPhone and iPad later this year with technology that it has created in-house, according to media reports.
Offline google maps
"This means that the next time you are on the subway, or don’t have a data connection, you can still use our maps."
About freakin' time.
By Paul_ on 7 Jun 2012
@Paul_ on 7 Jun 2012
If you wanted it sooner why didn't you design it then.
By curiousclive on 9 Jun 2012
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