Google is leaving no rock unturned and no valley not mapped by taking a side-step off the roads with their street view cars and mapping the back trails of the Grand Canyon with their camera outfitted backpacks called The Trekker.
“When we were designing Trekker, we really knew we wanted to take it to these rugged, remote locations,” said Ryan Falor, a product manager on Google’s Street View special collections team, at the top of the Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail on Monday. “We worked really hard to make sure it was waterproof and could handle heat and cold and all kinds of abuse on the trail.”
The Trekker — which looks like a Ghostbuster’s Proton Pack with an oversized soccer ball mounted on top and a USB-connected Android smartphone in place of a particle blaster — was first shown off at a Google Maps event back in June. At that point, the device was still a prototype and a bit lighter than its current 40-pound heft. But after about a year and a half of prototypes and improvements, as well as test hikes around the Googleplex headquarters in Mountain View and on weekend trails in the Bay Area, Trekker is finally polished enough to collect 360-degree imagery for use in Google Maps Street View.