The Netherlands-based Tele Atlas is one of two companies that build and update street maps to feed to GPS-device makers and Web sites such as Google Maps. Its raw data: photographs captured by more than 300 drivers, who collectively covered 350,000 miles last year.
They use a fleet of about 50 minivans, equipped with six to ten 1.3-megapixel still cameras mounted on the roof and facing in all directions to provide a 360-degree view. (Recently the company added stereo cameras, paired to shoot the same area at different angles, so it can create 3-D images of terrain and buildings.) As the vans drive (as fast as 55 mph), the cameras automatically capture an image about every 10 feet. An onboard computer makes sure the image has enough detail, including a clear shot of street and road signs. If not, the driver repeats the route. With a highly accurate type of GPS, a gyroscope and other equipment continuously calculating the van's position, the location of every object in the photo can be placed to within a foot.
Tele Atlas estimates that 10 to 15 percent of the areas it maps differ from year to year because of construction and other changes. Since the company delivers new maps to its clients every 90 days, it must constantly update its database. That means not only re-driving roads but also culling map data from thousands of other resources, including aerial imagery, engineering surveys, and even UPS branches, pizza-delivery joints and regular GPS users.
On the next page, how a mapping van works.
How a Mapping Van Works
- Laser scanners measure the distance between the van and nearby objects to detect and locate road signs and exterior walls.
- Two stereo cameras at the front of the van take pictures that can be combined to make 3-D images of buildings and landmarks.
- Six to 10 1.3- megapixel cameras each shoot a frame automatically every 10 feet to capture a 360-degree view.
- A GPS antenna and fiber-optic gyroscope calculate the cameras' exact coordinates to triangulate the location of objects in the photos.
- A PC in the van controls the cameras and alerts the driver when there's a problem with the quality of the images being captured.
- The driver (or, in high-traffic areas, a partner) monitors the equipment and imagery on a dash-mounted laptop.
I found this recently and it helped in identify possible fraud in an application of credit. I was curious and looked at my current residence and was amazed. My wife on the other hand freaked out as if it were a peeping tom, and considered it an invasion of technology. The problem lies in that people are judgemental and even though you may have cleaned the property up and painted it, it may give an impression to a prospective employer or future spouse of a negative nature.
We chased down one of the purposed vehicles possibly being used only knowing pictures of shadows casted upon the road during the mapping picures appearing to have two large antenna upon the roof. This vehicle was an older model 4x4 Jeep Cherokee.
The Future: Facial Recoginition data used in department stores matching with debit or credit transactions when they swipe their card. Compares the the data with history photos and purchase history and communicates with police departments in search of warrants outstanding or criminal history to alaert to past fraud. Brings all information including picture of known family members as well as residences lived in or registered with.
After all, the only ones that have to fear these things are the bad guys. right? hmmm.
this was a really quality post.I wasn’t aware of the many ripples and depth to this story until I surfed here through Google! Great job.
Wow ! I've learned that there are several differences between a traditional paper map as shown in a scholarly resource and a digital map that’s meant to be viewed on the LL-MAP interface; these differences affect the process of how we digitize and adapt traditional maps to be displayed in LL-MAP!