Google Street View is a
technology featured in Google Maps and Google Earth that provides
panoramic views from various positions along many streets in the
world. It was launched on May 25, 2007, originally only in several
cities in the United States, and has since gradually expanded to
include more cities and rural areas worldwide.
Google Street View displays images taken from a fleet of specially
adapted cars. Areas not accessible by car, like pedestrian areas,
narrow streets, alleys and ski resorts, are sometimes covered by
Google Trikes (tricycles) or a snowmobile. On each of these vehicles
there are nine directional cameras for 360° views at a height of
about 8.2 feet, or 2.5 meters, GPS units for positioning and three
laser range scanners for the measuring of up to 50 meters 180° in
the front of the vehicle. There are also 3G/GSM/Wi-Fi antennas for
scanning 3G/GSM and Wi-Fi hotspots. Recently, 'high quality' images
are based on open source hardware cameras from Elphel.