Last night I was watching a show on BBC America called "Mud, Sweat and Gears". Of course it's a show dealing with automobiles. I get a real kick out of shows dealing with cars. This one (I think) is pretty new and I was immediately hooked. It involves two teams of three people pitted against each other. They have to soup up clunkers and have to try to get their cars to survive three extreme tests. The car that loses gets blown up at the end of the show.
Anyway...last night as the show began, one of the teams happened to have close by a very strange looking car, and the presenter (the BBC word for host) was explaining to his team what the car was. It was one of the Google Mapping Vehicles. I was fascinated. It was white and bright green and had this humongous 'thing' on the roof that held cameras which apparently could take pictures in the round. These vehicles have been going round the world, making a visual Atlas.
I use Google Maps a lot; I'm curious and want to see where people I know live. And, after seeing one of Google's mapping vehicles I now understand how they got the pictures of intersections...the cameras mounted like a monstrosity on the roof of the vehicles simply panned around it in a constant and very smooth way. Awesome! But, here's the thing. How did I not see this vehicle when it was on my street? It must have stopped at my intersection, stayed there for at least a minute, panning, before moving further up my street. Seriously...it drove past my house...how did I miss that? I'm quite aware this happened because I've been on Google Maps many, many times and I've seen my house.
Matter of fact, I've been many places using Google Maps check out places I've lived over the years and have seen them all except for one. As close as I could come to that particular one is a few blocks away where I can see that intersection quite well. I'd have never recognized it if I'd been dropped there by some alien vessel but thanks to Google Maps I would now.
What's fascinating about all of this is how small the world has become, and how close Google Maps can get me to where you live. I can see your residence starting from outer space, zoom in, zoom in, and zoom in again until I can see your driveway, your car and almost peek in your living room window. Is this an invasion of your and my privacy? I suspect so. I've been told there's a way to remove your home from the mapping, but I figure what's the use in that I'm sure Realtors already have it recorded in their records and I'm sure my County Tax Assessor's office does, too.
Shoot, once more I've digressed. What this blog is really about is the Google Mapping Vehicles and how clever Google engineers, researchers and scientists were to come up with the whole system of mapping the world; it boggles my mind. If you've never had the opportunity to discover these maps, you should. It is amazing. The program is very easy to use and it will take you just about anywhere in the world you will probably never be able to go, and give you the next best thing to actually walking up to and knocking on your friend's or family's front door. Try it, you’ll love it.
I'm very sorry I missed the mapping of my neighborhood, street and house. Had I known Google was going to do that I would have stood in my front yard and waved to the world. Imagine my image standing at my curb for the whole world to see, waving forever and ever, and ever.