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Google has mapped 10 million miles (and it will map 10 million more)

Google has announced its Street View camera have now mapped an astonishing 10 million miles around the world, which is enough to circle the earth 400 times.

In the image below you can see how Street View coverage has developed since its debut back in 2007 and Google is keen to point out just how exhaustive that work has been.

In a blog post on Friday, the company explains how the fleet of camera-laden Street View cars are augmented by backpacks worn by everything from sheep, camels and scout troops in order to gather imagery from places where it’s not possible to drive.

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Thomas Escobar, Senior Product Manager for Google Maps, writes: “It can take anywhere from days to weeks, and requires a fleet of Street View cars, each equipped with nine cameras that capture high-definition imagery from every vantage point possible.

“These cameras are athermal, meaning that they’re designed to handle extreme temperatures without changing focus so they can function in a range of environments—- from Death Valley during the peak of the summer to the snowy mountains of Nepal in the winter. Each Street View car includes its own photo processing center and lidar sensors that use laser beams to accurately measure distance.”

In the blog post exploring how imagery powers the salient Google Maps platform, the company also revealed satellite imagery from Google Earth now covers 98% of the world’s population. In case you were wondering, that equates to 36 million square miles that can be viewed in high definition from various satellite providers.

The blog post goes into detail on how Google processes and stitches the images together using photogrammetry, combined with satellite imagery to ensure accuracy to the metre.

Escobar continues: “Once we’ve collected photos, we use a technique called photogrammetry to align and stitch together a single set of images. These images show us critically important details about an area–things like roads, lane markings, buildings and rivers, along with the precise distance between each of these objects. All of this information is gathered without ever needing to set foot in the location itself.”

There’s quite a few other interesting titbits within the blog post, so we’d advise checking it out. Regardless, Google says a cartographer’s work is never done, so don’t expect to stop seeing those Street View cars and backpacks around your ‘hood any time soon.

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