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Google Street View Now Covers Antartica

Google Street View is now officially on every continent, as they announce that parts of Antartica are now covered by the innovative exploration software. In a post on the Google blog, the search giant announced they were also rolling out street view functions for Ireland and Brazil; giving them an even greater coverage of some of the major cities and countries on Earth.

Brian McClendon, Google’s vice president of engineering for Google Earth and Google Maps, had this to say about the new Street View on the official Google blog:

“[Google Earth is] a way to show you what a place looks like as if you were there in person – whether you’re checking out a coffee shop across town or planning a vacation across the globe. We hope this new imagery will help people in Ireland, Brazil, and even the penguins of Antarctica to navigate nearby, as well as enable people around the world to learn more about these areas.”

Many users have already taken the opportunity to virtually visit Antartica, with most reacting favourably to the addition to the service. Ed Parsons, in an interview with The Guardian, spoke of the motivation behind the move:

“One of the challenges we wanted to crack is to go to these remote places, and one of geo teams at Google went to Antarctica so he took some kit and took some imagery. It’s called Street View, but there aren’t many streets in Antarctica!
This allows people to understand the contrast between New York Times Square and being on the edge of a glacier looking at penguins.”

Google used a specially designed snowmobile to capture the footage; mounted with Google GPS equipment and a 360 degree camera, the snowmobile was designed to capture the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. You can view a video of the Google Snowmobile here.

As you might imagine, the area covered by Google Street View in Antartica is minimal; it’s the size of America and Mexico combined and at any given time has a population of no more than a couple of thousand. Despite this though, users can still see most of the beautiful Half Moon Island – where McClendon and his team began their expedition of the continent.

This is the first time Google has taken their Street View cameras to a continent without being greeted by concern around privacy issues from government officials and onlookers alike. This issue has been particularly fuelled in recent months, with vigorous complaints and legal proceedings from authorities in the UK, China and most notably, Germany.

Despite the concerns however, Google is pushing forward with increasing the coverage of Google Street View and Google Maps, insisting that they are taking criticisms on board and will be utilising technology to address privacy issues in the future.


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