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What If: Google Drone Street View

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There is no shortage of online blabbers making predictions about the future or bloggers pining pageviews with rumors about the next thing (usually from Apple). I rarely join the chorus of new year prognosticators—and won’t now. Instead I make a wishful what-if aimed squarely at Google. Watching the blizzard blast the Washington, D.C. metro area, once my home and for most of my adult life, I got to thinking: Wouldn’t a live feed, something like Google Drone Street View, be fantastic way to experience the storm?

Why shouldn’t this be the next wave in drone deployments? If not from Google, then from newscasters? The low-flyers could go where snow would stop motorized vehicles; and, connected in real-time to Google Maps, provide contextual viewing experience. You can be there, too, even if living one-thousand kilometers distant. Newscasters could use drones to give a more immersive watching experience. 

The news angle idea isn’t original, obviously. Who hasn’t seen some sci-fi feature where cameras fly around a reporter. (Say, isn’t there something like that in “Back to the Future II?”).

Emergency response crews could locate, or even assist, people trapped in vehicles and homes or find folks trudging lost through near white-out conditions—to name but a few obvious applications.

Reaching this paragraph, I thought surely someone else has thought of using drones during the storm. Sure enough, Googling retrieved this news story from Knoxville, Tenn. The home-made snow drone is kind of a case study for what could be.

Again I ask: Why not deploy location-aware drones connected to Google Maps in real time? Wouldn’t that be a great innovation that taps into the company’s core cloud and other tech strengths. Drone Street View is what I’d like to see this year or next.

Hell, Google Cardboard advances VR on a budget. Say, Google, release Street View kits that drone users can attach to their flyers and from which you can collect more images and vids for Maps. Make some of it available in real-time, rather than use images that are weeks, months, or even years old.

Photo Credit: Kevin Baird

Editor’s Note: A version of this story appears on BetaNews.

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