Sunday, April 1, 2012

Google Street Roo - exploring the outback one bounce at a time

After announcing tens of thousands of 360-degree panorama pictures of the Great Barrier Reef in Google Maps earlier this year and launching Street View imagery for the Amazon last week, one of the final frontiers we have yet to bring to your favourite computing device has been the Australian outback. One of our top requests from our users is the ability to roam the vast Australian continent. Unfortunately, the remoteness of the outback has posed a challenge for our traditional Street View cars and trikes.

Today, we’re happy to announce that Google has found an innovative way to capture a special collection of images from the back of beyond to include in Google Street View.

Over the next four weeks, more than a thousand Big Red kangaroos will be equipped with a 360-degree head camera that will automatically capture images when the marsupial is on the move during daylight hours.

The cameras on our Street Roo collection team will be powered by solar panels stitched into the back pocket of custom-made roo jackets. Images will be wired to Google in real-time. A GPS tracker embedded into the jacket will match the location of the kangaroo to ensure the image is accurately uploaded onto the new Street View layer.

To ensure a seamless experience - and to avoid motion sickness - we have also developed software that will smooth over the bouncing effect experienced with the raw data. Users will be able to move backwards or forwards in Google Street Roo as they would use Street View, like this:

Leading marsupial specialists undertook extensive research to ensure that the image capture activity would not interfere with the roo’s grazing, sleeping or breeding activities. The cropped jackets that the kangaroos will wear have been designed to keep the pouch area completely accessible for the joey at all times.

The deployment of the ‘roo force’ will begin today and we believe 98% of the Australian outback will be captured on Google Maps within three years.

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