Google revealed today that the Street View cameras that sit atop the roofs of vehicles that roam and catalogue the world have received a quality bump. While this results in higher resolution images, it also means better data for its image recognition systems.

Speaking to Wired, Google detailed some technical aspects of its new camera rig. At least in the U.S., Google traded in the Subaru cars for a Hyundai hatchback. The most noticeable difference is how the camera setup is no longer a bulky sphere. Meanwhile, the cars also have a new wrap that appropriately features various Street View imagery from locations around the world.

In the new design, Google purposefully decided not to cover up the eight cameras resulting in a less defined setup. Two HD cameras look to either side of vehicle in order to capture clearer shots of street signs and buildings.

With this first major upgrade in eight years, users can expect to see “higher resolution and punchier colors.” However, this new design is as much for users as it is Google internally. Those two side view cameras will provide higher quality shots for Google’s image recognition systems.

Google via Wired

In the future, Google wants to especially improve on answering difficult questions that are increasingly asked more colloquially:

“What’s a Thai place open now that does delivery to my address?” “What’s the name of the pink store next to the church on the corner?”

Besides using Tensor Processing Units to process images, other new efforts include algorithms that allow cars to automatically add new addresses and locations that it spots to the database. According to Google, the updated Street View cars and rigs began regularly capturing imagery in the world last month.

Header image via Wired

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: