Google Street View goes off-roading

A camera-equipped trike can map places not always accessible by car, like trails, school campuses, and theme parks. Google wants your vote on where to go next.

Google's Street View trike is hitting the road throughout the U.S., and the company is seeking your input as to where it will go next.

In the past, Google Maps' Street View has largely restricted your virtual trips to spots accessible by car. But the company's trike, a 250-pound tricycle outfitted with GPS and a camera that looks like a submarine periscope, can virtually take you places you can't drive--anywhere from a school campus to a theme park.

To help its cyclists go where no trike has gone before, Google needs your help in deciding where it should travel next.

The company is asking you to vote on the locations you'd most like to see from among six categories:

  1. Parks & trails
  2. University campuses
  3. Theme parks & zoos
  4. Pedestrian malls (i.e. outdoor shopping areas, boardwalks)
  5. Landmarks
  6. Sports venues (i.e. golf courses, racing tracks, stadium grounds)

You have until October 28 to cast your vote at Google.com/trike. Google will then pick a winner for each category and send its trike cyclists on their mission.

The trike was initially launched as a 20 percent project by Daniel Ratner, a senior mechanical engineer on Google's Street View team.

"I began thinking about building a bicycle-based Street View system after realizing how many interesting places around the world--ranging from historic landmarks to beautiful trails to shopping districts--aren't accessible by car," said Ratner in a statement. "When I'm riding the trike, so many people come up to me and ask where it's off to next or how they can get imagery of their favorite spot, so I can't wait to see what our users come up with."

Google already offered a similar vote in the U.K. in May. Now it's the U.S.'s turn to pick its favorite virtual spots.

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About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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