Google Maps Street View 2.0 [LiDAR]

Brian Ussery is reporting that Google is back in Atlanta, GA making Street View images for Google Maps but, this time they brought in the big guns. Beu Blog reported on April 28, 2010, “The cars here today are equipped with GPS, high resolution panoramic cameras and multiple SICK sensors. These sensors collect LiDAR data that can be used for 3D imaging and visualizations like that seen in Radiohead’s recent “House of Cards” music video. Google Earth and SketchUp, Google’s 3D virtual building maker for Maps also use this type of data.

Last week Google announced the release of a plugin which allows users access to Google Earth imagery via Maps. As a result it’s now possible to view 3d images in Google Maps. The problem here is fairly obvious, Google Earth’s aerial imagery is taken from above and as a result not from the same perspective as users interacting with the data. Not to worry though, the StreetView team has been working on these kinds of problems for some time. When it comes to Navigation, Maps or StreetView, earthbound LiDAR enhanced imagery processed via Sketchup seems like a perfect complement to Google’s existing view from above. Combining high resolution imagery taken from the user’s perspective with advanced 3D image technology, presents some new possibilities to say the least. Factor in new releases like business ads in Maps, now being available in 3D on your mobile device and it’s pretty clear how Sketchup will be monetized.”

It is expected that Google’s incorporation of LiDAR into their mapping efforts will lead to some significant changes to our industry. If you have not previously seen the “House of Cards” video, be sure to check out the interactive music video code to see how Google made the point cloud data readily available for manipulation in a standard web browser. Point clouds are finally becoming more natively accepted in most CAD platforms and with Google getting involved in the industry, who knows where we will be in the near future.

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