Google's New Street View Cameras Will Help Algorithms Index The Real World
Steve Silverman helped build cameras for two NASA rovers that went to Mars. In the less exotic landscape of a Google parking lot, he looks up fondly at his latest creation, bolted onto the roof of a Hyundai hatchback. The gawky assemblage almost doubles the car’s height: four white legs holding up a vertical black stalk sporting eight cameras. “We thought about covering it up, but we’re kind of nerds,” Silverman says. “We’re proud of it.”
Silverman and his team build the hardware that captures imagery for Google Street View, the project that since 2007 has put panoramas of more than 10 million miles of roads, buildings, and the occasional act of public urination online for all to see. The new camera design, the first major upgrade in eight years, started regularly patrolling the streets last month. The data that’s just starting to come back will strengthen Google’s digital grip on the world.