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Google Working On 3D Maps, Deploys Planes For Aerial Photography

by Adriana Lee | June 8, 2012June 8, 2012 9:00 pm PDT

Some people were ooked, seeing themselves or neighbors pop up in Google Street View. Imagine how they’re going to feel when they see themselves sunning it up in their backyard, thanks to Google’s camera-packing airplanes.

Google has contracted a fleet of planes to capture aerial images for its upcoming 3D maps. The planes will be deployed in only certain cities to start, though Google’s not making a peep as to which ones. At its press event on Wednesday, the search giant refused to name them, but did say that the first set of 3D maps should be available by the end of 2012.

Considering the company’s Bay Area location, it’s a sure bet that San Francisco is among them. And indeed, it showed off a 3D map demo of the city. (“We’re trying to create the illusion that you’re just flying over the city, almost as if you were in your own personal helicopter,” said Google Earth Product Manager Peter Birch.)

You know this is going to kick up privacy concerns, but the company seems to have an answer for that at the ready: According to Brian McClendon, head of engineering for Google’s maps product, these privacy issues aren’t much different from those of all aerial imagery. So to ease those worries, the airborne photogs are instructed to capture images at a 45-degree angle, which seems to be the standard for aerial photography.

Even so, any city people tanning themselves on their balcony, making out on their rooftops, or doing anything else they don’t want the world to see may want to rethink that, at least until we know exactly how far the zoom tool will go. Jussayin’.

How do you feel about Google flying overhead, snapping photos? Excited about the 3D maps to come, or agog at the potential intrusion?

[via Reuters]


Adriana Lee

Adriana is the resident writer-slash-culture vulture who has written about everything from smartphones, tablets, apps, accessories, and small biz...

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