18:15 PM

Scoop! Smile for the Google 3D mapping truck

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Google-3D.jpgGoogle plans to use trucks equipped with lasers and digital photographic equipment to create a realistic 3D online version of San Francisco, and eventually other major US cities.

The move would trump Amazon's A9 service, which offers two-dimensional photos of buildings on US city streets.

The trucks would drive along every San Francisco street using the lasers to measure the dimensions of buildings, to create a 3D framework onto which digital photos can be mapped. This would complement the mostly top-down view of San Francisco available through Google's Keyhole satellite photo application.

The goal is to create similar 3D online versions of other cities in the US and overseas.

There have been several test runs of the specially equipped truck along San Francisco streets. One problem is that vehicles and people can block the automated laser and digital photo systems. This could be eliminated with a second pass, but Google wants to achieve results with a single run.

Researchers at Stanford university are working on this and other city related projects. For example,

here is another Google-funded Stanford project.

The Google 3D project would be used to highlight and distinguish the company's push into local business listings—the next big opportunity in online advertising.