Whether you’re a new student learning to navigate the University of Connecticut’s main campus or an alum reminiscing about strolling around Storrs, you’ll soon be able to pull up images of UConn on Google’s Street View service.
A Google Maps team has been on campus since Wednesday, using a specially equipped car and a tricycle-like vehicle to capture images of UConn’s buildings, intersections, campus landmarks, and other features.
The work is expected to continue through Friday or Saturday, and the team may return for a short stop during the week of Aug. 27 if inclement weather delays its progress this week.
Google officials say the images will be ready for viewing in late fall or early winter on their Street View service.
Google is collecting some of its footage on the main and Depot campuses by using its specially equipped Hyundai Sonata, but uses its 500-pound “Trike” bicycle for many streets and other places like Fairfield Way where vehicles are prohibited.
Google also has a smaller device on a trolley that can capture interior shots of buildings – though it’s not doing that work at UConn this week – and even has a tricked-out snowmobile for images on ski slopes and other hard-to-reach chilly spots.
The tricycle’s mast-mounted cameras or those in the car capture images that are matched to their specific location through the use of sensors and a global positioning device.
The images are later “stitched” together, to create a continuous 360-degree panorama for the viewer. Google says the process also provides data it can use in its Google Earth service to create what it calls “an immersive experience.”
A few areas on the periphery of the Storrs campus can already be viewed on Google Street View maps, but the current project will be the first time that the new Storrs Center and its various buildings will be mapped for the service.
Richard Craig, Google Maps’ Street View operations leader for the eastern half of the U.S., says they expect the UConn images to be online and visible before the end of the calendar year, and will inform UConn when it’s imminent.
For a UConn alum looking up his or her old residence hall or reminiscing about the Homer Babbidge Library, a few clicks on a computer mouse will take them to a map. They can then get a 360-degree view of the surroundings as they appeared on the day that Google’s tricycle or car passed by this week.
Google also has some good news for any camera-shy passersby who happened to be around at the time the images were captured: The map specialists blur out individual faces and identifying details such as license plates.
The exterior of the UConn-Stamford campus building is already on Google Street View maps from an earlier project in that city. Some areas also have been mapped that are adjacent to the University’s other campuses statewide, though not the UConn properties themselves.
Google has been building a gallery of its views of several university campuses in the U.S. and elsewhere, along with other collections of world wonders such as Stonehenge – also captured with use of the Trike – and the interiors of noteworthy museums and other landmarks.
Chaoran Wang and Jing Jin, who are both first-year graduate students from China, were so amused to see the vehicle Thursday that Wang pulled out her cellphone and snapped a picture just as the Trike rider passed behind Jin.
Neither of their families has been to UConn, and Wang and Jin are both learning their way around, too. Once the Google Maps Street View images are online this winter, their families will be able to check out the sights at Storrs without leaving their homes half a world away.