Google Street View Cars Get Camera Upgrades

Over the year that I have lived in the Colorado Springs area I have seen the Google Street View car cruising around my neighborhood a few times and all around the city. I say it’s about time, the imagery of my neighborhood hasn’t been updated since 2011. The Street View car that came around had the older white cameras on top and according to The Verge the newer Street View cars have received some updates, the first in about eight years.

The cameras on top of the cars have been refreshed and the goal is to allow Google to capture clearer photos that are higher resolution and have more vivid colors. The camera setup still attaches to the roof of the Street View vehicle, but there are fewer cameras in this setup than the last.

The last camera system had 15 cameras inside and the new one has seven cameras each with 20MP sensors. The roof sensor also has a pair of digital cameras that take still HD resolution photos and “cans” front and rear for laser radar. The new system will feed data to the Google machine learning and AI capabilities.

The new cameras capture street names and numbers and then the machine learning and AI capability and add them to the Google database. That software is also able to identify business name and logo data. Eventually Google wants its AI system to be able to do things like read smaller signs to determine business hours and to determine what sort of store it is by looking at it.

Google wants to be able to answer queries such as “What’s the name of the pink store next to the church on the corner?” That type of query can only be answered if “we have richer and deeper information,” says Jen Fitzpatrick, Google VP of mapping division. The new camera systems will help deliver that deeper information.