Google’s view of Indian streets begins from Bangalore


Forgot the name of your favourite showroom in Delhi's Connaught Place or Mumbai's Colaba or Bangalore's Brigade Road? There'll soon be an easy way out. With the click of a mouse, you can virtually roam the locality and locate the shop that failed your memory.

That's what Google's Street View does. This popular feature of Google Maps is making its India foray through a Bangalore launch.

The web giant on Thursday took the first step of putting its camera-mounted cars on Bangalore roads to capture images of landmarks. To access narrow and uneven roads, Google employs a trike, a camera-mounted modified bicycle.

Google on Thursday announced that it will begin collecting street-level imageries for its Street View in India from Bangalore, four years after it was initiated in the US.

Street View is a technology featured in Google Maps and Google Earth, which allows users to explore places around the world through 360-degree views from various positions along many streets in the world.

The California, US-based Internet search giant has already incorporated the feature in as many as 27 countries.

Announcing the launch of Street View in Bangalore, Vinay Goel, country head, products, Google, said it would soon be taken to other places across the country. The internet giant has decided to begin the collection of imageries from Nrithyagram, a dance village promoting Indian classical dance forms, located in Hessaraghatta.

Street View comprising the streets of India would be incorporated to Google Maps and Google Earth on a later date.

“Bangalore being the IT capital of India was the obvious choice to start with. The aim is to map India in totality which is a tough job considering two-third streets in India do not have names,” he said.

Camera-mounted vehicles would be used to capture the imageries, Google said, adding that specially designed three wheel pedi-cab, the trike, would be deployed in streets inaccessible to cars.

Street View would be useful for urban development planners, house hunters and travellers. Users could also check parking slots before arriving at a place and arrange meeting points. Businesses can also benefit from the Street View technology by embedding Google Maps directly into their websites.

Learning from its experience in the US, where the concept came under fire because of privacy issues, Google would blur human faces and registration number plates of vehicles to render them unidentifiable.

Users could also request Google to further obscure any images. Goel said the company would look into such requests. An option, “Report a problem,” would be incorporated on each Street View image.

First introduced in the US in 2007, Google Street View had come under fire by governments as well as individuals for alleged breach of privacy. There had been instances of Google cameras inadvertently capturing images of private moments, besides candid picture which those pictured would prefer to hide from the world.

Cars, Trikes & More

Street View Car
Street View car on display at Google

Street View Car

When we first started Street View as an experimental project, we packed several computers into the back of an SUV, stuck cameras, lasers, and a GPS device on top, and drove around collecting our first imagery. Since Street View launched for five U.S. cities in May 2007, we’ve expanded our 360-degree panoramic views to include locations on all seven continents.
We then moved to a van for a brief period, before switching to a fleet of cars that would allow us to scale the project throughout the US and around the world. We went from a rack of computers to one small computer per car, and then set to work refining our camera system to capture higher-resolution panoramic views.
After several iterations of the car and camera technology, the latest car has 15 lenses taking 360 degrees of photos. It also has motion sensors to track its position, a hard drive to store data, a small computer running the system, and lasers to capture 3D data to determine distances within the Street View imagery.
Street View Trike
Dan Ratner riding the Trike near the Googleplex

Street View Trike

While we’ve been able to visit some beautiful places around the world with the Street View car, some of the most interesting and fun places aren’t accessible by car. One day while mountain biking, Mechanical Engineer Dan Ratner realized he could combine his favorite hobby with Street View to explore new places, and set to work building a bicycle-based camera system. As a result, we’ve been able to take the Trike to parks and trails, university campuses, and even sports stadiums.
You can invite the Trike to visit so the world can explore your property in Street View.
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Street View Snowmobile
The Snowmobile at Whistler

Street View Snowmobile

Once we were able to take the Trike to all of these interesting places, we got to thinking about where else we could go and had the idea of putting our Street View equipment on a snowmobile. In typical Google fashion, we were able to put this together over the course of a few weekends using some 2x4s, duct tape, and extra hard drives wrapped in ski jackets to last through the freezing conditions. Fortunately the folks at Whistler Blackcomb were just as enthusiastic, so now you can explore Whistler in Street View.
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Street View Trolley
Dan Ratner & Matt Williams at the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

Street View Trolley

When a group of art-loving Googlers wanted to take Street View technology to museums around the world, we needed to develop a system that could easily fit through museum doorways and navigate around sculptures. We worked to fit all of the equipment on an even smaller frame, a push-cart lovingly dubbed Trolley, and gathered the imagery for you to explore in Google Maps.