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Google Street View Trekker backpack gets first UK outing

The Trekker is used to map locations that are difficult to capture with a vehicle

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Google’s Street View backpack has ascended Dubai’s record-breaking Burj Khalifa skyscraper, hiked California’s Grand Canyon and climbed Mount Everest. Now it’s coming to map the UK’s canal network.

The UK’s Canal and River Trust revealed today that the Trekker – as Google has dubbed it – will start to capture the UK’s 200 year-old canals and waterways from today.

The 4ft, 18kg backpack uses 15 lenses angled in different directions to take photos every two and a half seconds that can be stitched together to create 360-degree panoramic views and help map remote parts of the world.

Volunteers from the Canal and River Trust will carry the backpack over 100 miles a month to map canals and rivers in England and Wales.

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with the Canal & River Trust on such a fun project, and we hope to help boost the discovery of and make these historical canals accessible to more people in the UK and across the world through Street View technology,” said Google program manager Pascale Milite.

Starting on Regent’s Canal in North London, the Trekker will take in some of the UK’s Seven Wonders of the Waterways over the next month, including the longest and deepest canal in the country – the Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

Other canals on the network that will be photographed include Bingley Five Rise (a steep ‘staircase’ set of locks and another Wonder of the Waterways) and the blacksmith’s workshop on the Grand Union Canal at Stoke Bruerne, described as “one of the most picturesque canal villages” by the Canal & River Trust.

Wendy Hawk, partnerships manager of the Canal & River Trust, said: “We’re delighted to be the first people in the UK to get the Trekker on our backs – it’s fantastic that our 200-year old network is being given a different lease of life thanks to cutting edge, 21st-century technology.

“The footage we get will allow millions of people from all over the world to see our canals, rivers and towpaths, and will hopefully encourage some people to make a trip to see them.”

Google loans The Trekker to trusts and charities, which believe that their locations deserve to appear on Street View.

Google also has a fleet of cars and tricycles that are used to map other parts of the world.


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