How we collect imagery: cars, trekkers, flocks of sheep and laser beams
Gathering imagery is no small task. 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.
There’s also the Street View trekker, a backpack that collects imagery from places where driving isn’t possible. These trekkers are carried by boats, sheep, camels, and even scout troops to gather high quality photos from multiple angles, often in some of the hardest-to-map places around the world. In 2019 alone, Street View images from the Google Maps community have helped us assign addresses to nearly seven million buildings in previously under-mapped places like Armenia, Bermuda, Lebanon, Myanmar, Tonga, Zanzibar and Zimbabwe.