Google Street View using tricycles to capture images of places that cars can’t go

Google Street View is using some heavy-duty tricycles in order to provide images of more public areas where cars can’t travel:

The Internet giant has this week launched a large collection of images taken by the 9ft-long tricycles.

The novel off-road vehicles will allow Street View to increasingly include images of public and private sites such as Kew Gardens in London, hiking trails in California and Sea World in Orlando, Florida.

The tricycles weigh 250lbs and are each equipped with a 7ft-tall stalk of cameras on the back.

Heavy and tough to pedal, Google has hired football players and other athletes to drive them.

The idea of photographing public off-road places came to Google engineer Daniel Ratner when he was on Street View and noticed cobblestone alleys impassable to cars in Barcelona.

When I first saw this headline, I envisioned camcorders duct taped to tricycles that children were riding around parks. Google’s actual method does seem better, if less quixotic.

I know there are all sorts of privacy concerns due to Street View but I look forward to seeing these images of public parks and other areas generally inaccessible to cars. Urban parks, in particular, can often be fantastic places that offer a respite from the controlled chaos of large cities. Walking through the heart of Grant Park in Chicago, Central Park in New York City, Hyde Park in London, or the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, one can almost forget that one is within a several mile radius of millions of people.

$1 for your trouble

How much is a technical trespass worth?  Apparently $1. That’s the amount just granted to a couple who had their home photographed by Google as part of its Street View service:

over two and a half years after the case got started, a judge has handed down her consent judgement, ruling that that Google was indeed guilty of Count II Trespass. [The plaintiffs] are getting a grand total of $1 for their trouble. Ouch.

Ouch indeed.  It’s not quite Bleak House, but 2.5 years of litigation is an awful lot of trouble for $1, any way you measure it.