For the first time in eight years, Google’s Street View cars are hitting the road equipped with new hardware. The updated car-top rigs feature seven (instead of 15) 20mp cameras, two HD cameras, and two LiDAR sensors—a setup that will result in clearer images, better color rendering, more vertical building imagery, and fewer stitching errors.
More importantly, the camera upgrade will supply swaths of high-quality data for Google to feed to its image recognition algorithms. This will provide Maps and Street View with more—and more accurate—mapping information, including place names, street signs, and even hours of operation or accepted payment methods for businesses advertising such information in their windows.
Wired reports this information will help Google’s mapping services answer difficult contextual questions posed by its users, such as, “What Thai place is currently open and delivers to my address?” or “What’s the name of that pink store next to the church on the corner?”
According to TechCrunch, this type of accurate, up-to-date business information will translate to better results for businesses that choose to advertise via Google’s platforms.
The new Street View equipment was rolled out in last month in Santa Cruz, Calif., and will play a large role in the continuous mapping of developing areas such as India and Nigeria, where imaging updates are required to keep pace with infrastructural growth.