As the COVID-19 pandemic has sort of forced many people into staying home, it looks as though Google is leveraging people power to help populate Google Maps’ awesome Street View feature with a new “Driving Mode.”

The Google Street View cars are pretty iconic and are emblazoned with livery that makes them a really awesome standout when you’re just out and about. Obviously, with travel restrictions and issues with access in certain regions, this “Driving Mode” can help allow people to contribute without the need for a 360-degree camera — which can often be expensive.

This new feature was spotted by a user over on Reddit, and it looks as though “Driving Mode” lets you mount your phone to your in-car dashboard, your journey will then be recorded and uploaded to the Street View online database without you needing a fancy roof-rack 360-degree camera. Any faces or people captured during journeys will have their identities blurred. External contributions to Google Maps and Street View are nothing new, but removing the 360-degree camera barrier would be a really smart decision.

We’d imagine this potential “Driving Mode” will allow Google to keep Street View up-to-date, reduce lingering privacy concerns, plus it allows people to contribute more openly to arguably the best navigation system on the planet in the form of Google Maps. With many nations still lacking “full” Maps and Street View coverage, this Driving Mode will allow rural areas and those without large coverage to be built out over the coming years.

No information has been shared on if or when the Driving Mode might roll out more widely to Street View users. We’re unable to see Driving Mode on any of our own devices, but some within the original Reddit thread are claiming they have the option on their devices. Let’s hope that the option does get tested a little further before a wider rollout as this could be a really powerful community-driven tool that will help improve Google Maps across the globe.

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