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Google's Tricycle Helps Company to Map Just About Everything

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Whether you’re virtually revisiting past apartments, scoping out boulevards across the planet, or just passing the time by stalking the block where your cagey ex-lover may live, memorizing every nook, cranny, and smidgen of graffiti on the sidewalks and buildings surrounding his or her house, Google’s Street View is an endless well of fun.

Except, of course, that you could never see anything beyond the streets that Google’s weird camera car has driven down. Until now.

The brilliant minds at Google have discovered a way to expand Street View’s library of images to include places like parks, hiking trails, amusement parks, gardens, and other off-the-beaten-path locales shut off from vehicular traffic.

But how? Did they use super-secret spy satellites? Some high-tech GPS imaging device?

Nope. They used tricycles. Good old fashioned tricycles.

Mercury News reports:

The trikes were the brainchild of Google engineer Daniel Ratner, who visited cobblestone alleys impassible to cars in Barcelona, Spain, and realized Google needed something to record universities, parks, trails and other places, many of them private, where cars can't go.

"I feel like we're just scratching the surface of what sorts of images our users want to see," said Ratner, as he showed off one of the trikes that he helped develop at Google's headquarters in Mountain View. "We don't compare the trikes to the cars. We see them as being complementary vehicles."

Naturally, privacy advocates have some cause for concern. Street View remains one of Google’s most hotly contested services, with the company having already faced numerous lawsuits over invasion of privacy. Last year, a Pennsylvania couple successfully sued the Internet giant for trespassing, although the damages were only for $1.

Still, there remains something inexplicably creepy about the Google Tricycle. Do we really want Google to map all the spaces in between our public streets? Plus, it’s presumably only a matter of time before Google moves on to more adept forms of transportation, like rollerblades, ice skates, and God forbid jetpacks.

Scary.

The upside? “Google often hires soccer players and other athletes to pedal the heavy trikes, which have special gearing but are extremely heavy for a human-powered vehicle.”

All right. I guess as long as the trikes are being driven by extremely buff soccer players I’ll let it slide.
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