On ya trike: Google Maps shows off latest innovation

The Street View Trike will soon begin capturing images of Australia's off-road locations

Google’s Street View can now go off the beaten track with the addition of a trike to the Australian fleet.

Weighing 110 kilos and standing 130 centimetres wide, the trike began its career peddling around the grounds of Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, complete with its Street View camera and GPS system.

Google Australia engineering manager, Raul Vera, said Taronga Zoo is the first member of the Street View partner program in Australia, which will involve capturing images from historical sites, walking trails and university campuses across the country.


In pictures: Google's trike at Taronga Zoo

“Today, the kind of imagery that we’re able to collect in Australia is about to get a lot more interesting and varied,” he said.

“The Street View Trike lets us go to a lot of interesting places that our Street View cars, which stick to public roads, aren’t able to photograph. Many of the most interesting places in the world are places you might really want to preview online, aren’t accessible by a car.”

Vera also re-asserted the search giant’s commitment to privacy.

“Our blurring technology is getting better all the time, and of course if for any reason we capture and show something that anyone objects to, we take it down as soon as they let us know,” he said.

Launched Down Under in August 2008, Street View is an enhancement to Google Maps, allowing users to navigate through a continuous panoramic collage of street-level photographs of a location.

Despite being a popular feature, Street View has endured much criticism and has run into problems with privacy advocates worldwide, after it was revealed a number of inappropriate images were made available.

The trike took to the streets of Europe in May last year, photographing historical icons such as Stonehenge and Loch Ness.

Google has launched an online poll which invites Australians to nominate off-road places they would like the trike to explore. Entries close Monday February 8.

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