I’d never seen one of these before this morning, but parked at the Extended Stay Deluxe (don’t I wish) Suites on Highway 54 in the Research Triangle Park was this menancing black SUV bedecked with really cool cameras on the roof. The other night I spied on the operator sitting in the driver’s seat peering into a laptop.
Given the “Windows Live Local Beta” stickers on the rear window, I expect this is a local contractor driving around doing street level 360 degree capture as part of an overall integration with Microsoft’s local search capabilities. Amazon A9 used to have something similar, a street level view of the world so one can see house and store fronts, but alas, the function is no longer available. This notion of online mapping merged with photography takes the 3D tilt and pan effect of Google Earth down on the Z axis to a real-life view of what one would see standing at a specific cartesian coordinate.
Being a major cartography geek (I minored in cartography in college as part of my Scholar of the House program), I am all over this sort of stuff.
The truck belongs to a company called Facet Tech
Here’s the straight poop from the Facet Tech website:
“Digital map data can never be better than the collection method used to attain it. With that in mind, Facet Technology Corporation developed a collection and processing technique that is unparalleled in its precision, information-depth and efficiency. At every step, we’ve refused to settle for the status quo of the digital mapping industry. Whether it’s our determination to maintain a fully georeferenced, 360-degree video record of our entire coverage area, our rigorous multi-tiered processing methodology, or the way we collect street-based imagery for every accessible street, road and alley in our coverage area—we’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that our geographic information is as complete and useful a reflection of the real world as possible.”