Trike it or lump it

Google’s controversial Street View concept is going off-road. The three-wheeled, pedal-powered Google Trike will capture street-level images at places where the car-borne camera cannot go, such as historic landmarks.

With its complement of 360º angle camera, mounting, and onboard technology, Trikes weigh-in at around 114kg. ‘Specially trained super fit’ Google employees and contractors will be assigned to ride the Trikes. However, “due to operational factors such as light levels and the weather – and what could be pretty tired cyclists – the Trike will only be in the UK for a limited time during the summer,” says a Google spokesperson.

In an effort to garner public support for Trike, Google has partnered with VisitBritain, the UK’s official online travel and accommodation guide to devise five categories - castles, coastal paths, natural wonders, historic buildings and monuments, and sports stadiums – under which people can vote on which top tourist spots and landmarks that the Trike could visit later this summer. Before the Trike embarks on the byways of Britain, it is making its opening foray around the backstreets of Genoa, Italy.

Unlike the drivers of Street View cars, Google Trike cyclists will be open to the elements – and more exposed to the attentions of the passers-by; but Google says that it does not expect any hostility toward the riders: “Street View has been hugely popular for most people who’ve used the tool,” a Google spokesperson adds.

Meanwhile Street View’s global expansion continues to attract objections: last month its photographing of Greek cities was reportedly put on hold until the Hellenic Data Protection Authority received additional clarification of Google’s procedures, while in Japan the company was forced to lower the height at which images were taken to prevent them from seeing over low-rise Japanese architectural elevations.
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