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Google builds Street View trikes to map U.K. footpaths

Google is deploying tricycles outfitted with its 360-degree Street View cameras to map areas of the U.K. inaccessible by its cars. And it's asking the public to vote on where they should go.

Google trikes will traverse the footpaths of the U.K. this summer, capturing images for Street View. Google

To advance its Street View service this summer, Google is poised to unleash the unstoppable power of human legs.

Traditionally, the average road car finds it problematic to traverse the terrain of the British footpath. But bicycles do not. So this summer, Google will deploy bikes mounted with its 360-degree Street View cameras to map areas of Britain inaccessible by its fleet of Street View cars.

The so-called Google Trike, which the company describes as "a mechanical masterpiece comprising 3 bicycle wheels, a mounted Street View camera and a very athletic cyclist in customized Google apparel," will arrive in the U.K. to make some "special image collections."

It's up to the public, however, to tell Google--via a vote--which locations should be photographed. There are five categories to choose from, picked by VisitBritain: castles, coastal paths, natural wonders, historic buildings and monuments, and stadiums.

"Users will be able to virtually tour castles or monuments before visiting, or check out which side of a football stadium they need to be on before leaving the house," a Google spokeswoman told CNET UK. "They will be added to the Street View tool in the same way as existing images."

It comes as little surprise that Google is turning to pedal power to advance its controversial mapping agenda. History has shown that the human leg is an often untapped behemoth of energy, having in the past powered generators, submarines, and, of course, deep-space hair dryers aboard Red Dwarf.

The Gtrike will hit Italy's inaccessible areas first, before hitting U.K. footpaths later this summer.

Nate Lanxon of CNET UK reported from London.