The last demo given at Google’s Maps event today in San Francisco provided us with a look at the next update to 3D maps. Google’s Product Manager of Google Earth Peter Birch explained it is now using “automated technology to extract 3D from aerial images.” In other words, planes equipped with Google hardware fly in tight patterns to record aerial imagery for building 3D models of the city. Google Maps’ Vice President Brian McClendon explained the process took Google many years to perfect, but the result provides more precise data and better 3D maps experience.
Google explained during the Q&A that it has “a fleet of planes with contractors that fly exclusively for Google. And the privacy issues is no different than we’ve had with aerial shots for years.” During the demo, it also showed off a new “Tour Guide” feature for Google Earth that offers recommendations while navigating. Though the demo was given on an iPad, Google announced the new 3D features would come to both Android and iOS in the coming weeks.