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Google Maps Adds Drone Imagery

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the hook-'em-horns-but-closer dept.

Google 141

joshuadugie writes "Slashdot carried a story a while ago that Google had purchased drones for unknown purposes. Google Maps has now added new non-satellite imagery (at UT Austin, for example) when you zoom in close enough. Mystery solved!" I'd like to think that there really are (or were) drones over Austin, but would also like to see Google's explanation for the close-up images.

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141 comments

Can't Wait (0)

citoxE (1799926) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904060)

I can't wait until I can start viewing more embarrassing photos because the only uses this has to normal people is pretending to be a spy and looking for people falling off of bicycles or doing other stupid stuff.

Re:Can't Wait (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33904152)

You overestimate people. I suspect the main purpose will be to look for couples having sex in their backyard. Hmm... be back later.

Re:Can't Wait (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#33906352)

Yea, because I really only pay attention to the color/materials of roofs as I drive. I can't see how anyone might benefit from this.

Re:Can't Wait (0, Redundant)

Wingit (98136) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905264)

I sometimes go get the mail in boxer shorts. Crap. I better stop doing that. My neighbors don't mind or even notice, but it's really not for the world to see.

You don't know if the new images are from drones, (5, Insightful)

apparently (756613) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904078)

yet you state that in your headline anyway?
Brilliant.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

acnicklas (1740146) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904102)

Ummm.... if it's "non-satellite imagery," where else could it be from? I'd think a guy taking pictures out of a Cessna wouldn't be very economical long-term compared to a drone.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (5, Informative)

MWP-AU (538054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904170)

Actually, yes, sort of... the majority of the higher res images on Google Maps, is taken from light aircraft fitted with specialized camera equipment.
The imagery is taken most for surveying, council and real-estate uses, not for applications like Google Maps.
I would bet the Austin imagery is also done this way.

As an example, http://nearmap.com/ [nearmap.com] offers quite high res imagery.
Its mentioned here they the photos are taken with low flying aircraft: http://www.nearmap.com/products/photomap-coverage [nearmap.com]

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905248)

Indeed. After all, Bing Maps had the same distinct view angle for quite a while (called "bird's eye"), and I'm not aware of any drones being involved in that.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905574)

I've got a Nikon camera,
Want to strap it to a bird,
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (4, Informative)

east coast (590680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904200)

It seems that this is a joint effort with Sanborn given the copyright notice on the bottom of the image. Sanborn uses LiDAR [sanborn.com] as one of it's tools.

I'd also like to note that Bing has had areas covered with a similar angular mapping for a while. Their images are tagged with the name Pictometry [wikipedia.org] .

So, yes, it seems it is a "guy taking pictures out of a Cessna". Or something close to it.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (3, Informative)

colinnwn (677715) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904244)

My brother used to work as a commercial real estate appraiser. He talked to one of the first guys in Texas (perhaps the US) who retrofitted his Cessna with a viewport, a fancy DSLR, and a laptop. He flew around Houston and other cities in TX once a year or on demand, and took high res images that his software stitched together later. It may not be economical compared to a drone, but it was affordable, especially compared to satellite imagery at the time.

Were Google's drones just RC craft piloted by a certified pilot on the ground? I thought automated aircraft (no pilot) and RC craft flown by non-pilots were not allowed in controlled airspace in the USA.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (3, Interesting)

adolf (21054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904456)

Were Google's drones just RC craft piloted by a certified pilot on the ground? I thought automated aircraft (no pilot) and RC craft flown by non-pilots were not allowed in controlled airspace in the USA.

Perhaps.

But then, until quite recently, I thought that driverless cars [slashdot.org] were not allowed, either.

YMMV.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904730)

The cars are not driver less.

From the link you posted:
  "With someone behind the wheel to take control if something went awry..."

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904964)

So if someone were sitting near a ground-based transmitter, able to take control of the drone at a second's notice, that would be OK? How many drones can their transmitter control at once before you start classifying them as driverless?

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905400)

So if someone were sitting near a ground-based transmitter, able to take control of the drone at a second's notice, that would be OK? How many drones can their transmitter control at once before you start classifying them as driverless?

I expect his answer would be none. The self-driving car has the full control system of a normal car and a driver present in exactly the same way as a normal car. That is very different from having a driver/pilot available to control the vehicle remotely. What Google did was just an extension of cars that can break for themselves, maintain a steady speed, turn wipers on when it rains etc all of which are fine on roads.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (3, Informative)

42forty-two42 (532340) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904596)

I thought automated aircraft (no pilot) and RC craft flown by non-pilots were not allowed in controlled airspace in the USA.

Not all US airspace is controlled - in fact, the vast majority is not, particularly at the low altitudes you'd need to be flying at to get this kind of imagery.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

colinnwn (677715) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904756)

Used that as a generic term. I'm aware of the vague layout of US airspace. I was a student pilot in the early 1990's but I never got my ticket. Another commenter pointed out drones are not allowed in US airspace above 400 AGL or out of visual range of the operator (they can operate under RC rules).

Drone or chopper: which one makes the biggest bump (1)

bestalexguy (959961) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905362)

Anyone having technical knowledge willing to explain whether a drone is more likely to drop off the sky than a helicopter?

Re:Drone or chopper: which one makes the biggest b (1)

colinnwn (677715) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905446)

Everything else equal, a fixed wing drone will be more mechanically reliable than a manned helicopter, nothing to do with the drone, but with the realities of helicopter design.

Why does the FAA not allow drones in commercial airspace yet? Short answer is no one has took the time and money to develop one and get it certified. The longer answer is it depends on whether you are talking about piloted drones or autonomous drones.

There is a problem with coordination of pilot or autopilot to ATC requests, a pilot not physically being in the vehicle to make emergency avoidance maneuvers and trusting the autopilot to do it instead, and ensuring continuity of positive control of the autopilot or the wireless pilot interface. If a drone is going to be in airspace with passenger aircraft or over populated areas with heavy aircraft, the FAA wants to be damn confident it won't wreak havoc with highly automated commercial aircraft or Joe Bob in his Cessna.

Piloted military drones have a demonstrably higher accident rate. But I have no doubt after some teething pains and a lot of money, automated drones will have lower accident rates than piloted aircraft.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904320)

Since flying a drone in US airspace is very difficult and they do require pilots. Yes from a light airplane.
I would guess that it would cost a lot less than the street view cars do.
You can probably get a plane and a pilot for less than 100 an hour. It can probably a city in one day. 8x100=$800. Then think about how many hours it will take to drive all over a city at say $20 an hour. The shots from an airplane will be a lot cheaper.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33904736)

That number seems VERY low ..
100 / hr ??

av gas ( 100 low lead ) just around $5/gal ..
cesna 182 ( about the smallest thing you would want to do a task like this with ) burns about 12 ~ 14 gal per hour ..

Thats 60~70 in FUEL alone .. Add in insurance / oil / engine overhauls .. well over 100 / hr for the plane itself ..

Pilot .. you may be able to get cheap if you can find someone looking to go ATP and are willing to take a job cheap just for the Pilot In Command time ..

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

SteeldrivingJon (842919) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904986)

The cheapest thing would be to contact companies with helicopters, and offer to pay them if they let Google hang an automatic, GPS-equipped camera off them.

News and traffic helicopters, corporate helicopters, charters, and air ambulances do a lot of flying anyway. Get as much coverage as possible from them going about their business, and then hire someone to fill in any gaps.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905102)

Helicopters are more expensive to operate than small single engine general aviation planes like the mentioned "Cessna".

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

SteeldrivingJon (842919) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905204)

Maybe so. But if a company is already operating a helicopter in the course of business, then an opportunity to get a little extra income by hanging a camera pod off the helicopter for Google is a nice bit of gravy with no extra cost. It's like selling Google ad space on the side of the helicopter, only instead of a sign, there's a camera.

The key point is: cities already have people flying overhead. Why not take advantage of that, rather than chartering flights?

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

vidnet (580068) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905220)

And satellites are more expensive to operate than helicopters.

Parent's point is that if the helicopter flies around on other business anyways, carrying another few kg of video gear is cheap.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (3, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905108)

You can probably get a plane and a pilot for less than 100 an hour.

Eh? Even if you dig for the lowest of the low, novice pilots you are paying the pilot $25 an hour, more unless they are your employee, which doesn't include things like plane, fuel, or insurance. Current typical airplane fuel costs are $5 [minimum] per gallon.

If flying even the lightest turboprop imaginable, this still will consumes approximately 7 gallons of fuel per hour, probably more by the time they've gotten all their various computer equipment and cameras on board for mapping.

All said and done, a minimum $50 for fuel + $25 pilot = $75.

Unless the plane is a 30 year old death trap, it's unlikely its owner will rent it to you for a mere $25 an hour.

It might be cheaper to just buy/license the media from some other company who already got that particular footage, or buy the assets from the company when they're having a fire sale / liquidation.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904714)

Ummm.... if it's "non-satellite imagery," where else could it be from?
I'd think a guy taking pictures out of a Cessna wouldn't be very economical long-term compared to a drone.

Lots of imagery on Google Earth and Google Maps is non-satellite imagery when you zoom in close. Look at Downtown Seattle some time. You can see the sides of buildings.

Google gets images from a lot of places. In the case of Seattle and NYC the images were taken by aircraft under contract to the city for their own use, and purchased by Google. The resolution is almost as good as the UT Austin images. You can see some weird leaning buildings in Google Earth.

These images were there long before Google even announced the purchase of these drones.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904958)

Ummm.... if it's "non-satellite imagery," where else could it be from?
I'd think a guy taking pictures out of a Cessna wouldn't be very economical long-term compared to a drone.

Yeah, and I'd think a guy taking pictures out of a car to make a map as he drives up and down every single street in the world wouldn't be very economical... oh wait [google.com.au] . (Then again, drones you say? Oh snap.) [wsj.com]

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904994)

The idea that pictures over such a small area were taken from an aircraft is both simpler and more likely than a drone, a new technology that Google might (or might not) have plans to use to take pictures for Gmaps.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904294)

From the resolution it's likely not from satellites (I don't think satellites can photograph people yet - at least not commercial satellites).

Secondly when zooming in at a certain zoom level (some 3, 4 levels before maximum zoom), the copyright data changes (see the little line at the bottom of the images). These close-up aerial photos have been made by Google themselves.

Indeed whether it has been done by manned aircraft or drones you can't tell from the photos, but with the current state-of-the-art of unmanned flight, and the known fact Google owns such aircraft, it's very likely these photos were made using drones.

Soon enough the mystery will be solved by a Google blog post or so followed by a post on /.'s home page.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

joshuadugie (1718208) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904336)

You're right. I checked a little more after I submitted the article (should have done it first). The images seem to be taken from about 20000 ft, but the drones purchased (http://microdrones.com/en_md4-1000_tech_data.php) can only fly up to about 3000 ft. These must have been from a plane instead. I apologize for the incorrect conclusion.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904356)

Google "aerial photography" and notice all the ads which sell you the photos. Or look in your local Yellow Pages, where you can get photos of your house if you wish.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

argeybargey (894693) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905426)

These aren't the drones you're looking for, you can go about your business. Move along.

Re:You don't know if the new images are from drone (1)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 3 years ago | (#33906378)

Austin has had max zoom for years, and almost certainly from aerial photography. I do see that there is a new 45-degree view, but there is still nothing to indicate that they used an unmanned drone to take the pictures. There's no good reason they can't just tilt the camera on a normal aerial photography plane.

Others have mentioned that licenses for a commercial company to operate unmanned drones over cities are very hard to get. What if the drones are for UN-populated areas? There's been plenty of aerial photography done over highly populated areas, but not over the middle of nowhere. (This is depending on the area; I remember that some states seem to have had total coverage done.)

It's old news (4, Informative)

sanchom (1681398) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904108)

http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/12/changing-your-perspective.html [blogspot.com] Just starting to be available in more places it looks like.

Technodrome Eye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33904112)

Now we're almost to the point where we can have the Technodrome Eye; you know where Chrome Dome can just see exactly what's happening no matter where the action is?

cost of surveillance dropping (1)

l2718 (514756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904162)

I wonder when this tech will be cheap enough to be commonly used for private security (guarding installations) and private investigators.

This is all so very fucking scary (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33904172)

Is there no limit to Google's continued prying into every facet of our lives?

Re:This is all so very fucking scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33904754)

Retard

Is this awful? (1)

lullabud (679893) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904198)

Am I the only one who thinks these new drone images are horrific? Sure, the detail is great, but the perspective is totally whack when viewed in 2D map mode. It will probably look a lot better on the 3d Google Earth buildings when they apply the textures correctly, but for now it looks awful.

Re:Is this awful? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904240)

That's because, in most likeliness, these images are "leftovers" from aerial surveying and were never really meant to be used in the fashion they are today. Their original purpose probably has nothing to do with Google Maps.

Re:Is this awful? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904304)

Google appears to have made those photos themselves. See the copyright notices on the bottom of the images.

Re:Is this awful? (2, Informative)

Jesse_vd (821123) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905418)

I see "Texas Orthoimagery Program" which lead me to this
http://www.tnris.state.tx.us/News/InFocus_tpl.aspx?id=1756

Re:Is this awful? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905480)

At the zoom level provided directly by the link I see "(C)2010 Google - map data (C)2010 Google"

Zooming out you get the name you give (probably aerial photography again) specifically for the imagery.

Zoom out a little more and it's all copyright Google again.

Even further zoomed out (satellite level): "imagery (C)2010 TerraMetrics."

And beyond that it appears to be pure mapping.

Re:Is this awful? (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905610)

I thought it said "Texas Ornithoimagery Program" and was wondering if they were using bird mounted cams.

Re:Is this awful? (-1, Troll)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904656)

It is worse than awful. Google seems to sincerely believe they have the right to do what they please. And it seems lots of government agencies, both foreign and domestic, concur.

Few days ago they let possibly dangerous and certainly illegal self-driving vehicles on the road, apparently without prior authorization and definitely without proper safety testing.

The interesting thing is what are they doing so that government lets them get away with this kind of shit.

Between google and facebook, the US now has the most comprehensive international spy network ever created.

Re:Is this awful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33904712)

That is the biggest load of crap I've ever had the misfortune of reading. Do you know anything about any of the topics you've just spoken of? My god.

Re:Is this awful? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905258)

I've been using a similar feature in Bing Maps, and no, it's not awful if used for its intended purpose - which is to get a quick glance of the area under an angle where the actual shapes of the landmarks are visible (and will be recognizable once you're on the ground there).

Re:Is this awful? (1)

cyclomedia (882859) | more than 3 years ago | (#33906022)

Yeah over the past few years I've found it a lot more helpful for getting my bearings before visiting a place than the (nearly) straight down view, being able to see the sides of buildings AND in bing's case pan around really helps you figure out where things are and IMO its still clearer than streetview for that. You can move onto streetview to find specific shops and buildings but as an intermediate layer the oblique angle is really good

Mystery solved? (3, Funny)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904206)

Look, everyone knows that the Google index server has evolved sentience and is currently hunting for Sarah Connor. You might as well just admit that's what the drones were really for.

Re:Mystery solved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33905082)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Connor_(singer)

Stolen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33904212)

From Bing's Bird's Eye view.

It's not drones (4, Informative)

deapbluesea (1842210) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904222)

Drones are illegal in the US without a Certificate to Operate from the FAA. The FAA does not provide CtO's lightly, nor have they ever granted one for operation over a populated area...and before anyone links to DIY Drones, this rule is for corporations, not individuals who operate under r/c rules (under 400 ft AGL, within sight without any vision enhancement devices such as binoculars).

Re:It's not drones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33904296)

r/c rules (under 400 ft AGL, within sight without any vision enhancement devices such as binoculars).

But can I add small, unguided rockets? As long as they're not laser guided/heat seeking missiles, that's okay, right?

Obligatory Judas Priest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33904232)

Presciently, from 1982:


Up here in space
I'm looking down on you
My lasers trace
Everything you do

You think you've private lives
Think nothing of the kind
There is no true escape
I'm watching all the time

I'm made of metal
My circuits gleam
I am perpetual
I keep the country clean

I'm elected electric spy
I'm protected electric eye

Always in focus
You can't feel my stare
I zoom into you
but You don't know I'm there

I take a pride in probing all your secret moves
My tearless retina takes pictures that can prove

I'm made of metal
My circuits gleam
I am perpetual
I keep the country clean

I'm elected electric spy
I'm protected electric eye

Electric eye, in the sky
Feel my stare, always there
There's nothing you can do about it
Develop and expose
I feed upon your every thought
And so my power grows

I'm made of metal
My circuits gleam
I am perpetual
I keep the country clean

I'm elected electric spy
I'm protected electric eye
I'm elected electric spy
I'm elected protective, detective, Electric Eye!

Re:Obligatory Judas Priest (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904660)

Nothing like seeing 'obligatory' on /. without the words 'XKCD' attached. :P
Yo I'm happy for you Metallica and Imma let you finish, but Judas Priest is one of the best heavy metal bands of all time. OF ALL TIME.

offtopic note to Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33904314)

Classic discussion system is not currently working properly with scripting blocked via noscript on Firefox and clicking the classic discussion system option. All that shows is the broken AJAX view and have no desire to allow scripting and go with the very abrasively annoying AJAX view. Please fix the Classic view.

_Adding_ non-satellite imagery? (3, Informative)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904338)

Google Maps, AFAIK, has _always_ included non-satellite imagery. Higher resolution images have _always_ been from aerial photographs taken by aircraft. From the Google Blog, a few days ago:

...The folks who created Google Earth devised a way to stitch aerial and satellite imagery together into a seamless, searchable map of the world and make it available to anyone with a computer...

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/world-as-eagle-and-wild-goose-see-it.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+blogspot/MKuf+(Official+Google+Blog)&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher [blogspot.com]

Is that even legal (1)

LukeWebber (117950) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904392)

Is it legal to fly remote-controlled aircraft over built-up areas in the US? I'm pretty sure it's not in Australia.
OTOH, there isn't much that is legal in Australia these days. Ain't it a bitch?

Re:Is that even legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33904744)

OTOH, there isn't much that is legal in Australia these days. Ain't it a bitch?

With such a large outback, why are you complaining? Be happy you're not living in Europe.

Re:Is that even legal (1)

pckl300 (1525891) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904796)

Remote controlled aircraft are restricted in Australia? Like even RC planes and such? I imagine Google's not breaking the law, though you never know...

Re:Is that even legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33905024)

With enough money anything is legal. Someone just needs to buy a license to make it legal.

Bing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33904406)

Bing Maps has this type of imagery over most of the populated US and Europe. There's nothing new about this. Pictometry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pictometry) has been collecting these images for years.

It's Like Where's Waldo (1)

Hackineer (1751344) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904430)

No one else has found the drone's shadow? Hint: On campus and between two majestic symbols of academia.

Re:It's Like Where's Waldo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33904846)

I looks between the football staduim and the athletics stadium and couldn't see it.

OMG I can see the RG6 on the roof! (2, Interesting)

jtara (133429) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904452)

I kid you not, I can see the RG6 on the roof of the building across the street! (San Diego)

I took a look at my own building first to see if there were new, higher-resolution images. Sure enough, I could see the plastic conduit on our roof that carries the Cox cables to each stack. I think it's about a 4" conduit.

Just for yucks, I pan over to the building across the street, and I can see the bare RG6 laid on the roof.

Voila! I now have the photographs to accompany my presentation to the HOA about how stupid it is that our cable is laid-out orthogonally, as opposed to the sensible, star layout across the street. (It's so stupidly laid-out that it accounts for the 8db difference between my living-room drop and bedroom drop.)

See link below. (What the heck, privacy is dead, right?) This isn't even at maximum zoom, you can zoom in further yourself. I left it at this zoom level so you can see both buildings at the same time.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=2414+Front+Street,+San+Diego,+CA&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=36.726391,79.013672&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=2414+Front+St,+San+Diego,+California+92101&ll=32.730802,-117.165676&spn=0.000842,0.001206&t=h&z=20 [google.com]

Hi-res airport imagary too (1)

jtara (133429) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904488)

So, I'm pretty close to the airport, so I thought I'd take a look over there. Something tells me they had to get SOME kind of special permission for this:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=2414+Front+Street,+San+Diego,+CA&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=36.726391,79.013672&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=2414+Front+St,+San+Diego,+California+92101&t=h&ll=32.733691,-117.182491&spn=0.000424,0.000603&z=21 [google.com]

I'll leave nearby military installations and bunkers as an exercise for the reader...

Higher-res than Bing (1)

jtara (133429) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904910)

At least at my location, the Google images appear to be higher-res than the Bing images. For example, on Bing, I can't see ALL of the RG6 runs on the roof across the street - only where there are several bundled-together.

(Sorry, Slashdot won't post the Bing URL - it's "an awfully long string of characters"...)

BTW, I took a look at some of the military stuff in the area. At higher-res, the aircraft carriers mysteriously disappear. But that could just be because they weren't in port when the high-res images were taken.

I thought I saw an area mysteriously blanked-out with a croshatch pattern. But then I realized that what I was looking at was headstones at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetary.

Taking a leaf from Bing (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904512)

From the summary: "I'd like to think that there really are (or were) drones over Austin, but would also like to see Google's explanation for the close-up images."

It's Google implementing a feature Bing has had available for over a year - the Bird's Eye view.

Re:Taking a leaf from Bing (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904570)

From the summary: "I'd like to think that there really are (or were) drones over Austin, but would also like to see Google's explanation for the close-up images."

It's Google implementing a feature Bing has had available for over a year - the Bird's Eye view.

Here's a list of 150 cities with bird's eye imagery on Bing: http://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&cid=546E7E30AC2C5011!250 [bing.com]

I seem to recall an MS mapping page predating Bing having the feature since 2006ish.

It's cool that Google is doing this, too, and I bet they're doing it the legal way: with small aircraft containing real pilots, not drones.

Droning people out (1)

Walt Sellers (1741378) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904534)

Drones to do aerial photos isn't that scary. If those photos were live, or nearly live, that might be scary.

Now I'll have to wonder about every plane circling a sports stadium towing an advertisement. The Google Ad Drones will probably swarm and have self-changing ads. And they'll never fly away since there is no pilot to need a break.

For photos, it might make sense to use drones when they can get closer without attracting attention. Or maybe they can be flying early and late in the day for those people-free photos. Weird to see a campus with so few people. That skynet thing must be Photoshopping the people out where it can. The people behind the joystick can work a regular 8-hour day and still get bathroom breaks. Or maybe Google is somehow harnessing strangers on the net to get good photo instructions (too cloudy, too many people, people-free, and um, embarrassing ... over-exposures.)

The splicing at the edges of map/photo sections seems weird. The shadows change direction, the buildings seem slanted on side of a street and straight on the other side.

Re:Droning people out (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904626)

. And they'll never fly away since there is no pilot to need a break

By the same token there's no reason to have many qualms about shooting it down...

i hate to give one to microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33904568)

i hate to give one to microsoft but local.live.com wich is now bingmaps i thnk bing.com/maps or maps.bing.com or something, has had ariel fotography for years, i always surprise people who use google maps with it the one good thing microsoft has done, corse they stole the software for nasqmap or something like that but STILL! hhaa

Wow- drone in sync with the land view . (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904726)

The same maroon suburban is there both in street view and the 100' aerial view. I guess the drone follows the street view car around.

Looks like under 100' to me.

Re:Wow- drone in sync with the land view . (1)

oljanx (1318801) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904766)

I noticed the same thing. If you scroll around you'll see quite a few cars parked in the same or nearby spaces between the drone/street view photos. How long until we get "Google Live View"?

Re:Wow- drone in sync with the land view . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33904800)

In residential areas it's not unusual to have the same cars parking in pretty much the same places day-after-day for as long as those cars are owned. Images taken a year apart can be as little difference as images taken hours apart.

Those Drones have a good flash (1)

furgle (1825812) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904898)

I think its an improvement, being able to see angled pictures would have helped me find a whole bunch of places much better.

Although these days i use nearmaps to make sure the road i plan to travel on still exists. It also covers construction work over time really well. Just look at the Clem 7 tunnel entrance in Brisbane Australia big changes small amount of time

Google's satellite pictures are out of date in my area by a few years and have more than once directed me to a road that does not connect, or a road that does not exist. I think drone pictures in my area would bring me back to google maps. Although I doubt i will see a drone in Australia any time soon.

anyone notice youtube videos of UFO's over NYC (1)

dxm007 (1890114) | more than 3 years ago | (#33904926)

I was just over at youtube testing my connection quality and noticed new videos of "UFO's" sighted over NYC on Oct 13th, and now this article. What's the chance that umbrela corp.... uh... I mean google is not connected to those :) And for the record I love google and most things they do, but if some day in a not-too-distant future it turns out that they have an underground lab with some genetics ad-placement experiments, I will not be surprised one bit.

Re:anyone notice youtube videos of UFO's over NYC (1)

Jesse_vd (821123) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905522)

From the huffington post

conclusion: balloons from a Times Square event promoting Spanish Tourism

Awesome!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33904970)

The NSA got it right this time, partnering with Google, all the spying, all the time, all places possible, and without those pesky Federal laws.

these are old aerial photos (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33905228)

Several prominent features of Eastwoods Park just north west of UT Austin are missing in these photos showing that their age to be at least 4 years old, taken well before they made their German micro-drone purchase. Various other construction and deconstruction projects around the area of viewable non-satallite imagery confirm that these are all old aerial photos of several years in age.

There are... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33905332)

...many spy satellites based off the hubble telescope, but aimed toward the earth. if you think they need aerial photography for high resolution images you are sadly naive. they've been able to read along with you that book you read in the park for years and years.

private companies may be longer in getting access to such high resolution imagery, but it's nothing new.

I for one welcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33905880)

our new corporate drones and their benevolent rule of the new state of Googlistan

Are you guys retarted? (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 3 years ago | (#33905902)

The only sat imagery in google earth has only reasolutions of up to 15m/pixel.
Everything thats good enough identify individual houses has always been areal imagery.
I mean, just look at citites, you can actually _see_ the tilt of the scyscrapers not centered in the image (which would be nil for a sat in LEO or above.
If you really look around you can even see the shadow the for observation plane at some point.

And just in case: government has kept aerial imagery catalogs for decades. Its not that google invented flying planes with cameras around.

My 15 milliseconds of fame (1)

smcdow (114828) | more than 3 years ago | (#33906196)

Since I live in Austin, not far from the UT campus, I just brought up Google Maps and had a look ... and there we are, my wife and me in our front yard. We just happened to be outside when the image was made. I admit to feeling just a bit creeped out.

only a limited amount of hi-Res (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33906346)

I still couldn't make out Hippy Hollow very well

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