Google Street View is officially 15 years old and to celebrate its anniversary, Google today announced that it has developed a new Street View camera that is small enough to fit any car.
The technology company described the camera as about the same size as a house cat and weighed only 15 pounds (7 kg). The company is still piloting the new camera, but it will take all the power and resolution of a full street view car and compress it into a unit that a human can easily lift.
Importantly, when it launches fully next year, it will be small enough to be shipped anywhere in the world, making it perfect for use by partners in areas not as extensively mapped as the Amazon rainforest.
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It will be easy to attach to any roof rack and users will be able to manage it with a mobile device. This means that vehicles do not need to be specialized in a wide range of ways and users do not need any complex processing equipment. Google says it will make it easier to add hybrids and EVs to its fleet.
The camera will also be customizable, and the system will be able to include a leader to collect images in more detail. This means that things like lane markings, speed limits and even holes can be seen by the camera. For older systems, Google had to create a brand new camera system whenever it wanted to collect different types of images.
All of these new capabilities will allow Google to make its maps and street view programs more useful. The company plans to use AI to keep the map as up-to-date as possible, and Live View will allow users to overlay real-world directions with augmented reality. Immersive View, meanwhile, will allow map users to actually check out the business inside the store.
Finally, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Street View, Map Users will have the ability to change their navigation icon to Street View Car by simply tapping the Chevron while using Driving Navigation. On the computer, meanwhile, the Pegman you can drop anywhere on the map to go to Street View will be wearing a birthday dress.