Google Maps goes underwater, here’s how that’s possible

May 20, 2013
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Google Maps is a go-to source for finding just about anything. The service is so well designed and built, you can go just about anywhere, virtually. Curious if that new restaurant has enough seating for your party of ten? Go inside the establishment via Maps! Everything from street views of local neighborhoods to standing at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial is covered in Google Maps. The only thing we don’t see much of are the great oceans of our planet.

Teaming up with Catlin Seaview Survey, Google is working on mapping the Great Barrier Reef, and has six locations overall currently in the works. Of course, this promises to be just the beginning. The mapping is currently done by humans, taking shifts diving to capture images. The team hopes to create a diverless system that can stay under the ocean surface for 12 hours or better. Driverless cars, diverless dive mapping. How Google-y!

What about the camera? Do they just take a street view backpack system and throw it into a waterproof housing? Not at all. The underwater cameras are specially designed and built for this task, costing about $50,000 each. There are currently four in existence, and Google hopes to map much of the ocean someday. Think of all the interesting photos that would come of underwater mapping! You think a donkey laying down on the side of the road is fun, wait for the giant cephalopods to make their appearance.

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