Google Inc is launching a fleet of small planes equipped with cameras to take photos of several cities in their continuing campaign to create a 3D map of the world.
The search company giant showed a demonstration of a 3D map of San Francisco in their recent press conference. Through the new Map, the user can navigate around an aerial view of the city. Google though declined to name all the cities for this plan.
Google Earth product manager Peter Birch said they are going for the illusion of users ”just flying over the city, almost as if you were in your own personal helicopter”.
Brian McClendon, Google’s head of engineering revealed that the fleet of airplanes for this mission is owned and operated by contractors flying exclusively for Google.
Privacy implications have been plaguing this development though, as with Google’s ‘Street View’ camera-equipped cars that also took real pictures for the map service. These cars were inadvertently collecting emails, passwords and other personal data through wireless networks.
McClendon responds to this by saying that Google’s planes will only be taking the type of 45-degree-angle pictures that have been used for a long time.
The new 3D city Map will be part of Google Earth software app for mobile devices by the end of the year, featuring coverage of a combined population of 300 million people. The first 3D cityscape will be available within weeks.
Google will also launch a version of Google maps for Android smartphones that will allow access to certain maps without a need for Internet connection. These advancements are set to benefit its 1 billion monthly active users.
The announcement comes as rivalry heats up between Google and Apple Inc. Currently a Google Map user, Apple is now planning to replace it with its own built-in mapping service.