The Growing Impact of Towns and Cities in Google Earth

July 28 2008 / by justinelee / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Environment   Year: General   Rating: 3

In its effort to catalog and effectively share the world’s information, Google continues to improve its dynamic representation of earth and has now extended its reach to cities and towns.

The first time I experienced Google Earth, I was pretty impressed. Accessing satellite information, I was able to navigate most any location on the planet that I was interested in, from a bird’s eye view. Of course the first thing I did was check out my street, the homes of my past, and landmarks around my town.

Next I was introduced to Street View, a visualization composed of photos taken from automobiles that allows full 3D street navigation. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when Street View was at last integrated with Google Maps, that I could travel down my street take a glance at my house and my car parked neatly on the curb. That was really cool to me. I found myself wondering where I was the time the photos was taken, and being thankful they hadn’t caught me outside my house in an early morning stupor.

After some light research I found that Google isn’t just concerned with satisfying my curiosity. It has found ways to make money with this technology while expanding its functionality for important, decision-making parties.

Google introducing advanced versions of the platform with Google Earth Pro ($400/year), a collaborative tool for commercial and professional use and Google Earth Plus ($20/year) for everyday map enthusiasts. It also provides non-profit organizations with Earth Outreach, a program that allows organizations to map their projects to help engage users.

In March 2008, Google Earth introduced Cities in 3D which is unsurprisingly a complete 3D visualization of numerous cities. To contribute to this effort, users can submit and share renditions of structures and buildings using Google’s SketchUp. The program primarily relies on city governments to submit their 3D information electronically (for free) and invites them to review the benefits.

The benefits for local governments seem rather extensive. They include: engaging the public in planning, fostering economic development, boosting tourism, simplifying navigation analysis, enhancing facilities management, supporting security and crime prevention, and facilitating emergency management.

Continue Reading

Unmanned Helicopter Can Dodge Obstacles on Ground, Rescue Your Ass

November 10 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Technology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 1

A large problem with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles is that they cannot avoid objects such as power lines or bridges. It is for this reason UAVs are not allowed in civilian areas here in the US. That could change with new technology being developed at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. “Engineers at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, have modified a commercial civilian UAV helicopter made by Yamaha to be able to see obstacles it encounters.” The ability to dodge objects is crucial for UAVs expecting to fly low to the ground.

The UAV can run off of maps pre-programmed into its system, or it can generate its own map by using a laser scanner built into it. This allows the prototype itself to fly up to 36kph at an altitude of 5 meters around objects in recent trials.

What does this mean for robotics?

Continue Reading