Kite-based aerial imagery arrives in Google Maps

Frank Taylor's photographs, taken by a camera suspended from a kite, has fleshed out a few patches in Google's online maps of the world.

BBQ Island off the coast of Panama is a high-resolution patch in the middle of a low-resolution ocean of Google Maps. (Click to enlarge.)
BBQ Island off the coast of Panama is a high-resolution patch in the middle of a low-resolution ocean of Google Maps. (Click to enlarge.) Google

Satellite schmatellite.

Frank Taylor, author of the Google Earth blog who's on a five-year sailboat trip called the Tahina Expedition, supplied Google with aerial imagery that's much higher-resolution than the usual fare obtained from cameras in orbit. The imagery is arriving on Google Maps and Google Earth.

The process has some complications satellites don't have to worry about, though. "Due to the sun getting low in the sky, we weren't able to cover a large part of the village," Taylor said Monday of shots from Manihi atoll in French Polynesia now arriving in Google Maps. "There were telephone/electric poles and wires and trees in the village, so we had to avoid getting the kite string caught in those."

The French Polynesian atoll already had some imagery. Not so for another site photographed by kite, BBQ Island, one of the San Blas islands near Panama. It shows as a patch of high-resolution detail amid a sea of low-resolution ocean on Google Maps.

This view shows the difference between imagery of Tahiti shot from a kite and the much lower resolution satellite imagery.
This view shows the difference between imagery of Tahiti shot from a kite and the much lower resolution satellite imagery. (Click to enlarge.) Google

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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