November 12, 2009 – Since launching Street View cars in South Africa in September this year, Google has heard from people around the country that they’d like us to include even more images of South Africa’s amazing attractions in Street View and put its famous landmarks on the map.
That’s why we’re giving people a sneak preview of our latest groundbreaking invention – the Google Trike. This mechanical masterpiece comprises 3 bicycle wheels, a mounted Street View camera and a specially decorated box containing image-collecting gadgets. It also comes with a very athletic cyclist in customised Google apparel. The Trikes are not only a low-emission means of collating street-level imagery, as we are currently doing with the Street View Toyota Prius cars, but they also help Google collect imagery in places inaccessible by cars.
We can also reveal that we’re polling the South African public to vote for their special spots, such as historic landmarks and popular tourist destinations that the Trikes might visit. Google has teamed up with South African Tourism, with its unrivalled knowledge of South Africa’s tourist treasures, to compile a list of 20 exciting locations around the country, for which the public can vote and choose the top 3 locations that the Trikes will visit first.
Roshene Singh from South African Tourism said, “We have been only too happy to join forces with Google for its Street View initiative in South Africa, to bring our country’s remarkable diversity to the world in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. The new Trikes that are arriving shortly will help to showcase even more of South Africa’s unique travel offering, and we look forward to enthusiastic voting from the public.”
Do you want to see one of the World Cup stadiums on Street View? Or perhaps the Apartheid Museum, Kruger National Park or the Valley of the Zulu Kings? You can vote via an online form at www.google.co.za/trike and also from your mobile phones at www.google.co.za/mobile/trike. As we only collect images from public roads, we have been working closely with the relevant organizations to collect images of privately-owned locations.
Stephen Newton, head of Google South Africa, said, “Street View has been a hit for tourism around the world, and now we want to make it even better for showing off South Africa’s history, nature and culture. The Trikes are designed to go down footpaths and tracks to collect images of areas of natural beauty or tourist sites. The Trikes will be here in South Africa for just a short time so in order to pick the very best spots, we’re asking the public to get involved and tell us where they want us to go. We want it to be a really fun, new aspect of the website – depending on what the public vote for, users will be able to virtually tour historical monuments or scenic locations before visiting – or check out which side of a football stadium they need to be on before leaving the house.”
Due to operational factors such as light levels and the weather (and what could be a pretty tired cyclist), the Trikes will only be in South Africa for a limited time during the summer. Images collected by the Trikes will be processed and carefully stitched together, a technological process that can take several months. They will be made available at a later date in Street View on Google Maps.
Street View is a hugely popular feature of Google Maps which is already available in more than 100 metropolitan areas around the world. We launched Street View driving in South Africa on the 1st of September 2009. The launch of the product is expected in 2010.
In countries where Street View is available, you can access street-level imagery by zooming into the lowest level on Google Maps, or by dragging the orange “Pegman” icon on the left-hand side of the map onto a blue highlighted street. You can check out a restaurant before arriving, make travel plans, arrange meeting points, get a helping hand with geography homework, or just explore and get to know your town better.
As well as its consumer appeal, South African businesses will also benefit from the Street View technology by embedding Google Maps directly into their site for free, helping them to promote a chain of hotels or increase awareness of a local library or restaurant.