Google Boat View
Wednesday, 26th February 2014 by Alex Turnbull
A few years ago it was a common joke to suggest that Google would follow the success of Street View by attaching cameras to boats to capture imagery of rivers, canals and oceans. Well, of course that is now a reality so we will take a brief look at a number of watery locations around the world, including the most famous of all – Venice.
To capture the imagery, the Street View camera was mounted on a motorised barge (seen here near the Bridge of Sighs) which was probably rather more stable than a gondola1. Even though it was lowered when needed, the camera still barely made it under the lowest bridges.
As well as touring the Grand Canal, many smaller canals and getting as close as possible to St Mark’s Square…
… the boat toured around the islands of Venice Lagoon, including San Giorgio Maggiore where it captured Marc Quinn’s 11m-tall inflatable statue Alison Lapper Pregnant, one of his works presented at the 2013 Venice Biennale.
To London now, where a small boat carried the camera along a good stretch of the River Thames, allowing us to see the Tower of London and Tower Bridge…
… the SIS/MI6 headquarters, seen in a couple of recent James Bond films …
… and the Thames Flood Barrier.
In Tokyo, the camera captured a portion of the Sumida River from a tour boat, from where we can see the Asahi Beer Hall and offices. The offices are in the beer-jug shaped structure to the left, while the smaller Beer Hall building is topped by the Flamme d’Or, created by Philippe Starck and intended to represent both “the burning heart of Asahi Beer” and a frothy head on a mug of beer. Locals tend to refer to it in considerably less pleasant terms.
Back to Europe, where the canals of Copenhagen were captured from a large tour boat, complete with passengers and balloons in Google colours!
It visited the statue of The Little Mermaid – one of Denmark’s most famous tourist attractions …
… and even went into the protected waters of the Trekroner Fort, built in the late 18th century.
In the United States, imagery was captured of the Golden Gate Bridge using a trekker camera attached to a modified Unmanned Surface Vehicle, which affords us an unusual perspective on the iconic bridge.
Boat View isn’t just for cities – Google has been to more exotic locales as well, such as the Rio Negro in Brazil (a tributary of the Amazon), where a small section of rainforest shoreline was imaged near the city of Manaus. This blog post shows that a Street View trike was strapped to the top of a boat!
… and even some of the local wildlife!
In the Pacific Ocean a couple of different boats were used to explore a few spectacular areas in the Galapagos Islands, such as Kicker Rock – the split remains of a volcanic cone.
Meanwhile a smaller boat explored the mangroves on Isabela Island.
Perhaps the most adventurous expedition undertaken by Google’s cameras was a rafting trip through the stunning landscapes of Colorado River – a journey that is the focus of this long New York Times article.
Enough about imagery from boats, we’ll end with imagery of a boat. The Research Vessel Falkor belongs to the Schmidt Ocean Institute founded by Google executive Eric Schmidt. A Street View camera toured nine areas of the ship while she was docked at a museum in San Francisco – this was one of the first ‘indoor’ Street View experiments to prove the technology.
From high on the mast
(with the Golden Gate Bridge nearby) (Thanks to our eagle-eyed commenters who have rightly pointed out that this is actually the Bay Bridge, not the Golden Gate.)
… to the bridge (ahem, who on a Google-related ship uses an iPhone rather than an Android phone?!) …
… to the helicopter and boat deck (note in the background one of the hi-tech catamarans used for the recent America’s Cup) …
… to the multi-screened research area …
… and all the way down to the engine room. (Are they always this colourful or is it Google colours?)
If you have come across any other imagery captured from boats please post a link in the comments. This is surely an area where Google still has many cities and regions to explore, so we will likely do another post at some point in the future.
This is the second in an occasional series about out-of-the-ordinary imagery from Google Maps. In the first we visited wintery locations around the world in Google Snow View.