Driving down the street with a camera-mounted car seems simple enough, given it’s a passable street. But Google was not happy exploring and mapping only streets. Cobblestone alleys in Spain were shot on a camera-equipped tricycle, the interior of the Smithsonian was captured via push cart, and a snowmobile tackled British Columbia’s snowy peaks.
So how to capture Street View images of the craggy cliffs and rugged trails of the Grand Canyon? A high-tech camera-contraption-cum-backpack known as Trekker. The 40-pound hiker packs consist of a ball of 15 camera lenses shooting a photo every 2.5 seconds at a resolution of 5 megapixels each, all controlled by an HTML5 app running on a USB-attached Android phone.
“When we were designing Trekker, we really knew we wanted to take it to these rugged, remote locations,” said Ryan Falor, a project manager on Google’s Street View special collections team. “We worked really hard to make sure it was waterproof and could handle heat and cold and all kinds of abuse on the trail.”
On Oct. 22, three of the bulky backpacks were worn into the Grand Canyon starting on the South Rim for the new gizmos’ first official voyage. Although Google will still need to stitch the images together before making the natural wonder available to armchair adventurers, soon the wilds of Arizona will be available to anyone with a computer.
You can see a video of Trekker here.
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