A large, white tricycle was spotting cruising around campus today complete with a large tower containing enough cameras to capture everything in sight. What exactly was this contraption? The Google Streetview Trike! Google streetview has been a very nice tool to give viewers a close up, like-you-are-there, view of many places. It's one limitation, streetview is mapped by a car with a camera system on top and cars can only travel on roads.
Google's Senior Mechanical Engineer Dan Ratner developed the Google Trike to map all the places that a car cannot go including parks, trails, and UNIVERSITIES! After the invention of the Trike, Google decided the best way to get attention was to open up a vote for places for the Google Trike to go.
The voting was split into 5 categories: University Campuses, Park and Trails, Pedestrian Malls, Landmarks, and Theme Parks and Zoos. This voting took place about a year ago, and when RIT got wind of the event, it sent out a mass email to staff, students, and faculty to VOTE VOTE VOTE. Apparently us Rochesterians are good at voting or just very determined, because not only did we win the competition for the University Campus, we won by a LANDSLIDE. Google was blown away that RIT received over 30,000 votes to be Google mapped by the new Trike. And, after much anticipation and rescheduling, the Trike and Google Car made their appearance on campus today and I was lucky enough to tag along!
When I was asked to follow around a Trike made by Google I wasn't sure what it was for or what I was in for. Somehow I didn't hear about the voting OR the competition. My morning started off by grabbing a camera and heading to G Lot to watch news interviews of Dan Shelley, Director of Undergraduate Admissions. I rode around with Dan all day basically stalking Christopher, the Trike driver. Basically if we could see the Trike, the Trike could see us and we tried not to get into too many shots that will be used. Dan was so excited for this opportunity because not only is it great publicity for RIT, but have a Google Street View of the campus can connect RIT with more students and act as a virtual tour of campus. Prospective students and current students will be able to tour campus and find places of interest without leaving the comfort of home.
So if you saw the Google Trike today and wondered who the weird person riding around on a giant (250 lbs to be exact) tricyle, chances are that in about 3 months you will see yourself with your face blurred out as a part of RIT Google Street View forever.
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