Where will Google send its new Street View tricycles?

Google sends a couple of men on bikes around Paris, fully equipped with cameras to take pictures where cars aren't allowed. But where might these bikes venture?

They might almost be men selling ice cream.

They ride around on tricycles, a big fridge-like box perched on the rear wheels, a brightly colored logo on its side.

And yet that 10-foot-tall mast between the rider and the box tells you that this isn't pistachio peddling. No, this is surveillance, Google-style.

Those nice people at Google Street View became frustrated that their cars couldn't access every single corner of the world. Indeed, earlier this year the company removed footage of one of its cars after it transgressed traffic regulations. Then there are those pesky pedestrian areas and fine places of historical interest that don't allow cars within their boundaries.

So what better way to obviate these obstacles than by sending in the trikes?

The tricycles will blur faces, but what will they stil capture and where? CC PSFlannery/Flickr

According to the Associated Press, the freewheeling three-wheelers hold nine cameras, a GPS, a computer and a generator. And they are currently wandering around the center of Paris, having already done some historical surveillance in England and Italy.

A Google three-wheeling spokesperson, Anne-Gabrielle Dauba-Pantanacce, told the AP: "The idea is to be able to offer 360-degree images of places that were inaccessible before."

Google Street View is a schizophrenic enterprise. On the one hand, it's lovely to be able to see images of streets one is hoping to access (even if the recession has wiped out so many of the stores that existed when Google filmed).

However, there is still something slightly creepy about the intrusion of strange men, in or on vehicles, who just might capture your tender and private moments. Like vomiting, for example.

The tricycles are, according to Google, fitted with technology that automatically blurs license plates and faces, which does give one a slightly warmer feeling in one's more sensitive areas.

Yet one wonders just which historical landmarks might be in the tricycles' path.

Have they already drifted down the corridors of Britain's Houses of Parliament, innocently observing as Members of Parliament conducted private business with their personal assistants?

Might they have gone into some government buildings and villas in Italy and accidentally espied Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi giving sophisticated political tuition to the 18-year-old leaders of tomorrow?

You see, I know that those who become involved in passionate and occasionally illicit trysts do tend to use places of historic interest for their clandestine meetings.

And even though their faces might be blurred, their clothes and body types will be evident.

Who can forget the tale of the cheating husband, whose car was allegedly spotted by his wife on Street View?

Oh, what historical histrionics might still await those who observe Street View's latest and most enterprising footage?

 

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