Google Uses Astra to Capture Data for Upcoming 'Street View' Service in Europe

PC World published a story this week about a project Google is believed to have underway that is leading up to the European launch of its popular "Street View" service for Google Maps. The magazine says two Google employees were spotted on the streets of Paris collecting photos and location information using a Opel Astra rigged with all sorts of electronic equipment.

The article did not say if the Astra is Google's preferred vehicle of choice, because of its efficient packaging, or if this was just a coincidence. Nonetheless, its an interesting piece about the work that goes into providing the useful web service, and all of the legal issues that surround it.

Google has begun scanning the streets of Paris, gathering data for its Street View service, which adds street-level photography to the satellite views offered by Google Maps. The search company will gather a wealth of data from the project but, thanks to France's strict privacy laws, it may also pick up a few lawsuits on the way if it chooses to publish the photos unedited. Two Google employees were spotted on the Western outskirts of Paris on Friday as they mounted a sophisticated array of cameras and laser scanners on the roof rack of their black Opel Astra. The equipment was connected to a Dell computer visible inside the car. Although the vehicle was unmarked, the driver and passenger said they worked for Google. Similar vehicles, some of them bearing the Google Street View logo, have been spotted in other European cities in recent weeks, indicating that Google is gathering data on a massive scale in preparation for the launch of the service in Europe.

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