Smile, you’re on camera! New photo-taking cars are taking to Australia’s streets to make Streetview-style maps – but they’re not from Google
- Apple fleet with high-mounted cameras will be taking photos in your street
- Lidar precision 3D images used for navigation by driverless cars also taken
- Every state and territory will be photographed by the end of next year
- Those with privacy concerns can email Apple to ask for your house to be blurred
Apple is photographing Australian streets this month to upgrade its map app with photos similar to Google’s Street View.
Apple cars will systematically document the road network of every Australian state and territory with the project scheduled to be finished by the end of next year.
The Apple fleet has cameras mounted on car roofs and has already begun driving through Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth, taking photos in all directions.
Apple cars will photograph the streets of every state and territory capital starting now and finishing by the end of 2020. They will take pictures in all directions and also capture Lidar images which are used for navigation in some driverless cars
Tasmania and Queensland will also see the Apple cars, starting on Friday, with Darwin set to be photographed in March next year, Apple’s website says.
The field teams will collect latitude and longitude data, GPS traces, altitude measurements and will also take lidar images of the streets.
Lidar uses a laser to make high-resolution three-dimensional precision maps, and is used in navigation for some driverless cars.
The new Look Around feature in Apple Maps will use the new photos to give users an interactive 360-degree view so they can see what the street actually looks like.
‘Apple is conducting ground surveys around the world to collect data … to improve Apple Maps, and in support of the Look Around feature,’ Apple says on its website.
Apple has so far launched its Look Around feature in the US cities of New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco but it plans to make it global.
The photographing process takes several months with photographing to be finished in all Australian locations by the end of 2020.
Apple Maps Look Around feature is similar to Google’s Street View and lets users see a location with an interactive 360-degree view. At present it’s only available in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, but it will be rolled out globally
When the images are published, users will find out what the Apple fleet has captured inadvertently.
Google was famous for accidentally capturing a man falling down stairs in the US and an amorous couple in a naked embrace in Taiwan.
For privacy reasons, Apple has said it will not collect WiFi information, and will blur out any faces or number plates accidentally captured in their images.
‘We are committed to protecting your privacy while conducting these surveys,’ Apple wrote on its website.
The company said it would retain unblurred imagery for 18 months if it is not published and three years if it is published.
‘We recognize that risks can arise from retention of imagery prior to publication … In this respect we blur imagery as soon as is possible,’ Apple’s website said.
Those concerned about their privacy or who want to request that their face, license plate or house be censored can contact Apple by emailing them at: MapsImageCollection@apple.com