In the second article in a series exploring some of the techniques Google uses to make its maps, the company today gives us an inside look at its Cartographer backpack. Google of course already has its fleet of camera equipped vehicles collecting StreetView imagery, but the backpack is particularly useful for things like indoor mapping where other vehicles can’t access.

To go along with giving us a glimpse of its new Cartographer backpack, Google also announced its releasing six new indoor maps captured with the device. Here’s how it works:

Cartographer is a backpack equipped with Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) technology… As the backpack-wearer walks through a building, SLAM technology generates the floor plan in real time and displays it on an Android tablet connected to the backpack’s computer. The wearer can then add points of interest on the go, such as a T-rex replica in a museum. As fast as you can walk, you can map with Cartographer—so you can create floor plans for a 39-story building, like the San Francisco Marriott Marquis hotel, in just a few hours!

In addition to the new Cartographer backpack for indoor maps, the company has long been using its “Trekker” backpack for capturing StreetView imagery outdoors in locations inaccessible by its larger vehicles.

Yesterday Google published an article detailing the Ground Truth programs it uses to collect Maps data as it rolled out its Report a Problem and Maps Maker features to users in Russia, Taiwan, and Malaysia. 

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About the Author

Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & Electrek.co. He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s weekly Logic Pros series and makes music as one half of Toronto-based Makamachine.