Google’s new Street View camera is more portable (and looks weirdly cute)

Yet while these cameras have allowed Google to capture many remote locations, they tend to be bulky, heavy, and require significant computing power that must be added inside Street View cars.

On Tuesday, Google unveiled a new Street View camera that it says will make it much easier to take pictures of the world, especially in remote locations such as small islands and mountain peaks. The camera weighs 15 pounds (about one-tenth the weight of the current camera plus all the electronics required by the existing device); is modular and can therefore be customized with different sensors such as lidar when needed; and can be quickly connected to the top of a car’s roof rack without the need to customize the car (which will allow it to be connected to many other types of cars).

As with the current Street View camera, it includes seven individual cameras, each with a 20-megapixel sensor, so it can take 140-megapixel panoramic images.

Last week, Google gave CNN Business an exclusive look at the company’s new Street View garage camera in Mountain View, Calif., as well as a tour of the line of cameras and vehicles Street View has used. over the years.

The camera is cute, even for a surveillance device. It’s about the size of a cat or small dog, and its upper part is blue, with a white circle surrounding each of its large camera lenses (which look like large insect eyes) .

Some cutouts in the plastic give the impression, from certain angles, of having a small mustache. Most of its oblong body is silver in color, with two black handles for easy carrying (which, of course, also look like little arms).

Maria Biggs, who leads the team that designed and built the new camera, said her team was trying to make the camera so portable that it could be shipped alone, rather than with an entire car, to different places where it could then be connected to cars. [n order to do this, the electronics that typically have been fit into the backseat of a Street View car have been fit into the new camera. Biggs said that in order to shrink the camera’s electronics, her team designed power and processing boards smaller than the size of her hand. It can be powered by a car, or connected directly to a battery.

Google unveils a new Street View camera it thinks will make it a lot easier to take pictures of the world, particularly in remote spots such as small islands or mountain tops.
Over the past 15 years, Google Street View has connected its cameras to lots of things other than cars, too — think snowmobiles, bikes, backpacks, and even sheep — in its efforts to capture places that are off-road as well. (The sheep were part of an effort initiated by Faroe Islands residents in 2016 to gather pictures for Street View of the archipelago’s numerous islands). Biggs said the portability of the new camera will make it useful for these other types of picture-taking, and will make it possible to collect pictures in more remote places more frequently.

The Street View team is testing the new camera near its headquarters in Mountain View, and plans to start using it widely next year.

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