October 24, 2012
Google Street View Becomes Trail View
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Google has already taken its Street View project all over the world, giving tours of spectacular places such as the Smithsonian and Antarctica. Now, the company is taking its controversial mapping software to the mountains, allowing for users to walk hiking trails with just the click of their mouse. And what better place to go next than America's grandest treasure: the Grand Canyon.
The search giant has brought its Street View cameras down into the Grand Canyon, snapping photos of the most popular hiking trails on the South Rim and other notable park walkways.
With Street View, users can obtain a 360-degree view of locations throughout the world, giving them an idea of what to expect on a journey.
Google announced the new Grand Canyon hikes earlier this year, but made its first collection of images this week at the popular tourist site.
Google said it wants to deploy the Street View cameras at national forests, ancient ruins and castles, and even on Mount Everest.
The Street View feature was first launched back in 2007, and it has expanded from just five U.S. cities to more than 3,000 cities in 43 countries.
Google teams have covered more than 5 million miles with the Street View vehicles, according to Mike Dobson, president of Telemapics, a company that monitors mapping efforts.
"You could safely say that it's a standout, well-used application and they don't really have any competition," he said in a statement to the Associated Press.
On Monday, Luc Vincent, Google engineering director, strapped on the 40-pound backpack and headed down the Bright Angel Trail to the Colorado River. The trail is 10-miles, and goes from an elevation of 6,900 feet to 2,400 feet. He hiked back up from Phantom Ranch through the South Kaibab Trail as well.
The backpack is able to capture images every 2.5 seconds with 15 cameras that are 5 megapixels each. The GPS data is limited, so Google must compensate with sensors that record temperature, vibrations and the orientation of the device as it changes.
Hikers who were on the trail when the data was gathered will have their faces blurred, which will appease organizations and nations that view Street View as a violation of privacy.
Google said that photos will soon be live on Google Maps, giving everyone from visitors to "armchair travelers" the opportunity to view this landmark.
"So get ready for the virtual adventure that awaits! And in the meantime, we´ll keep on trekkin´ and working hard to bring you panoramic imagery of more visually stunning places we have yet to explore and share on Google Maps," Ryan Falor, Product Manager of Google Street View, wrote in a blog.