Google Answers Questions on Street View Car

After spotting the Google Street View Car in Mason County last week, MasonWebTV Powered by HCC asked Google a series of questions about the car that spent a few days driving around the County. Here are their answers to some of our question submitted via email:

Basics of process of mapping…
As with all our Street View platforms, the cameras take photographs as the operator drives down public streets or along private areas authorized by our venue partners. Once the photographs have been taken, they go through computer processing to make them ready for use on Google Maps. This includes cutting-edge face blurring technology, which helps ensure that passers-by in the photographs can’t be identified, and we also blur legible license plates.

In addition, we’ve also created easy-to-use reporting tools so that people can ask for images of their house, car or themselves to be obscured in Street View.

How quickly are the images uploaded?
We digitally reconstruct these locations and stitch the still images together into panoramic views. Each location has its challenges which can vary the time required to launch them. Typically, it takes several months to process and prepare the imagery for release on Google Maps.

What is on the car? (Number of cameras, types of camera, other equipment, etc.)
We have rolled out higher quality cameras on our fleet of Street View cars, which will help us publish more accurate and up-to-date imagery of the world. It’s been nine years since we’ve updated our camera technology – and just as smart phones cameras have dramatically evolved, we are improving our 360-degree camera technology to keep up with modern technology.

The new cameras will capture images with a higher resolution than the previous model which will enable better image processing. For users, this means imagery will be higher quality with greater tone and color contrast, more light sensitivity, and fewer seams when it’s published to Google Maps.

What type of car? (make, model, manned, unmanned?)
We use various types of manned vehicles for Street View driving collections.

Daytime only? / How is the route chosen?
When determining areas to drive for our Street View feature of Google Maps, in addition to considering elements like weather, temperature and light, we also typically begin in largely populated metro or downtown areas in order to provide useful imagery of those well-trafficked areas, and work our way outwards from there.

Where to next?
You can take a look at the list of locations where we’ll be driving or trekking next at the bottom of this webpage:

(Looking at that website, we found that Google Street View Cars will be in the area of Washington to include Spokane, Lincoln, Mason, Thurston, Pierce, King, Kitsap, Snohomish, Lewis and Cowlitz counties until September.)

Google was not able to answer all of our questions saying “There were a few operational questions we unfortunately cannot go into detail on…”

The questions that remain unanswered:
How many cars?
Are there more than one car in an area?
How often does the car visit an area or region?

Many people had different unofficial answers to the last question from once a month to twice a year. However, if you look at Google Maps and the current street view, you will find that images captured in Mason County were between September and October 2013.

Picture on Google Maps of same intersection where Google Street View Car was seen. Note “Image Capture: Oct 2013”