Saturday, August 20, 2011

Google Street View opens up the Amazon Rainforest for armchair adventurers

19th August 2011
Source: Daily Mail

Stonehenge has already been mapped, as has Whistler in the Canadian Rockies, so it was only a matter of time before the Amazon got the Google treatment.

The internet giant is attempting to map the South American rainforest for its latest Street View project, meaning people will soon be able to explore the area without even stepping on a plane.

The Google trike - normally seen being pedalled along roads with a camera perched on a tall pole - has this time been fixed to the top of a boat to capture information from the waterways.

Unchartered territory - for now: A Google team equipped with a 360-degree camera cruises down the Amazon

Local residents have also been enlisted to use the trike in its more traditional way and cycle through villages running alongside the river to take pictures of one of the most remote and biodiverse areas in the world.

In the first phase of the project, Google teams are floating down a 30-mile section of the Rio Negro River tributary extending from the Tumbira community near Manaus - the capital of Amazonas - to Terra Preta.

They will then continue down the second longest river in the world capturing images for armchair adventurers.

Plain sailing: The team checks out its equipment from the roof of the boat

Expanding horizons: Google teamed up with Brazil's Amazonas Sustainable Foundation to develop the project

Google street recordings have caused controversy, with residents complaining they invaded their privacy. Germany, India and Austria have all sought bans.

But Google says the cameras have been welcomed in the Amazon.

The Street View team was invited to the region by the Foundation For A Sustainable Amazon, Karin Tuxen-Bettman of Google Earth Outreach wrote on the company blog.

The foundation works to promote awareness of the region’s indigenous population, the cultures of whom have been largely inaccessible to much of the rest of the world.

Charity workers are being trained to use the cameras and some equipment will be left behind for them to continue the work.

Pedal power: As well as navigating the river, Google is shooting street footage of Amazonian communities

‘By teaching locals how to operate these tools, they can continue sharing their points of view, culture and ways of life with audiences across the globe,’ wrote Ms Tuxen-Bettman.

‘We’ll pedal the Street View trike along the narrow dirt paths of the Amazon villages and manoeuvre it up close to where civilisation meets the rainforest.

'We’ll also mount it onto a boat to take photographs as the boat floats down the river. The tripod - which is the same system we use to capture imagery of business interiors - will also be used to give you a sense of what it’s like to live and work in places such as an Amazonian community centre and school.'

Last year, photos of penguins in Antarctica were snapped by the mapping network and recent additions to the site include Pompeii, the Australian outback, Brazil’s famous beaches, the Palace of Versailles and the plains of Africa.

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