Google takes Street View off-road with backpack rig

At its "Next Dimension" Google Maps event, the company shows off a backpack rig for mapping places inaccessible to vehicles. Also: 1 billion users access Google Earth each month.

Google mapping backpack Josh Lowensohn/CNET

At its "Next Dimension" Google Maps press event, Google announced that has 1 billion monthly users of Google Earth. In mapping the planet for Street View, Google cars have driven over 5 million miles, all unique, covering 39 countries and about 3,000 cities.

Street View has captured 20 petabytes of data, the company said, from cameras mounted on cars, boats, snowmobiles, and even people. For mapping outdoor space, such as national parks and places that vehicles can't access, Google showed off a prototype back-mounted camera rig, which weighs about 35 pounds (check out the video below).

The camera has 15, 5-megapixel lenses and the battery for the rig lasts all day, Vincent said. "If you hike with a partner, they'll be in every scene," he quipped.

Google unveils offline mode for Google Maps

Google shows off full 3D mode for Google Earth

Google Maps heading in new directions (pictures)

Google Street View engineering director, Luc Vincent, dons the Street View backpack. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

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