Odd tricyle mapping Paris streets for Google

Aug 07, 2009 By HELENE GOUPIL , Associated Press Writer
Google employee Arthur Poirier, on a camera-equiped tricycle, records images for Google's Street View Maps in front of the Grande Arche de la Defense, outside Paris, Friday, Aug. 7, 2009. The U.S. company has hired two young cyclists to ride through gardens, historical sites and other pedestrian-only areas on the three-wheeler to take thousands of digital photos. (AP Photos/Jacques Brinon)

(AP) -- Parisians and tourists, relax. That goofy looking tricycle equipped with loads of high-tech equipment roaming the streets is NOT some mad scientist's invention on the rampage.

The three-wheeler is a sight with its long pole holding nine cameras, a GPS, a computer and a generator. But the contraption tooling around the French capital needs all that gear to do its job - adding three-dimensional images to Google's Maps.

The U.S. company has hired two young cyclists to ride through gardens, historical sites and other pedestrian-only areas on the device to take thousands of digital photos.

"The idea is to be able to offer 360-degree images of places that were inaccessible before," Google spokesperson Anne-Gabrielle Dauba-Pantanacce said in an interview.

The riders, wearing Google tee-shirts and white helmets, are visiting well-known sites such as the Chateau de Versailles, west of Paris, the Jardin du Luxembourg on the city's Left Bank or Les Halles, in the busy center of the French capital.

Google is to map Paris until Aug. 20, then head to the north of the country. In the fall, the tricycle goes south, said Dauba-Pantanacce.

The company plans to add new photos to their Street View option in all French cities with touristic areas that may be of interest to visitors.

Similar tricycles have already combed the streets of Britain and Italy in June and July, said Dauba-Pantanacce. Google plans to make 3-D maps of streets in other European countries, but the schedule has not yet been set, she said.

Spotted Friday at La Defense, the tricycle looked decidedly out of place at the modern high-rise business center on Paris' western edge.

A clunky white pole in the back holds an octagonal platform with eight cameras on the sides and one on top. Each minute, the cameras take bursts of high-definition photos to allow online users to get a virtual tour of the area.

"I rode two hours this morning," said 25-year-old Gregory Landais, who was taking a break after cruising through La Defense, France's touch of Manhattan. "For a site like this, it can take up to five hours."

To respect people's privacy, Google has installed software that recognizes license plates and people's faces and automatically blurs them, Dauba-Pantanacce said. Google will then choose the best photos among the thousands taken.

The blurring comes to meet privacy concerns.

Google recently acceded to German demands to erase the raw footage of faces, house numbers, license plates and individuals who have told authorities they do not want their information used in the service.

Greek officials rejected a bid to photograph the nation's streets until more privacy safeguards are provided. Residents of one English village formed a human chain to stop a camera van, and in Japan the company agreed to reshoot views taken by a camera high enough to peer over fences.

The photos of and other major French cities to follow were expected to be available online by the end of the year.

One curious sightseer was 46-year-old Jose Mountinho of Portugal.

"I've already seen Maps but I had no idea how they did it," Mountinho said.

---

http://www.google.com/intl/fr/press/streetview/index.html )

http://maps.google.fr/

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Belarus tightens control over online media

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Germany to Google: Erase raw street-level images

May 20, 2009

(AP) -- A data protection official for Germany said Wednesday that Google had yet to meet a key request that photos gathered for its panoramic mapping service be erased after they are sent to the United States ...

Google to reshoot street views of Japanese cities

May 14, 2009

(AP) -- Google said Wednesday it will reshoot all photos in Japan for its Street View service after residents complained the 360-degree panoramic images provided a view over the fences around their homes.

Greece bars Google's Street View pending details

May 11, 2009

Greece's data protection agency Monday barred Google from taking any more images on the nation's streets for its Street View feature, pending "additional information" from the US search engine service.

Recommended for you

Spain: Google News vanishes amid 'Google Tax' spat

Dec 16, 2014

Google on Tuesday followed through with a pledge to shut down Google News in Spain in reaction to a Spanish law requiring news publishers to receive payment for content even if they are willing to give it away.

Brazil: Google fined in Petrobras probe

Dec 15, 2014

A Brazilian court says it has fined Google around $200,000 for refusing to intercept emails needed in a corruption investigation at state-run oil company Petrobras.

Microsoft builds support over Ireland email case

Dec 15, 2014

Microsoft said Monday it had secured broad support from a coalition of influential technology and media firms as it seeks to challenge a US ruling ordering it to hand over emails stored on a server in Ireland.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gopher65
not rated yet Aug 07, 2009
That's pretty cool.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.