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Google Trekker to capture UK canals and rivers

By Peter Fitzgibbon - 9th September 2013 - 14:04

For the first time the Google Trekker backpack, which captures Street View imagery, will start to capture the country’s 200-year old canals and rivers.

On loan for the first time in the UK, the Google Trekker backpack is being used by the Canal & River Trust to document the nation's canals and rivers.

Starting on the Regent’s Canal in mid-August, the Trust is currently walking the Trekker over 100 miles to capture footage of some of the country’s most scenic waterway locations.

With the Trekker designed to capture 360 degree imagery in public locations, which the Street View car and Trike can’t typically reach, the narrow waterway footpaths and bridges are ideal places to trial the Trekker. Some of the previous locations it has captured include the Grand Canyon, the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, and a few of the world’s highest peaks.

21st-century technology

A 4ft, 40lbs backpack, fitted with a 15-angle lens camera, takes 360 degree pictures every 2.5 seconds, which are then added to Street View, available through Google Maps.

With more organisations all over the world loaning out the Trekker, armchair-explorers, travellers and history enthusiasts will soon be able view many remote and hard-to-reach places, which they may never have discovered on their own.

Some of the locations to be captured by the Trust include:

* The entire length of the Regent’s Canal, which runs through the heart of London, past some of the capital’s famous landmarks

* Bingley Five Rise, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways, and the steepest lock flight on the network

* The blacksmiths workshop at one of the most picturesque canal villages, Stoke Bruerne, on the Grand Union Canal

Wendy Hawk, corporate partnerships manager of the Canal & River Trust, said: “We’re delighted to be the first people in the UK to get the Trekker on our backs – it’s fantastic that our 200-year old network is being given a different lease of life thanks to cutting edge, 21st-century technology. The footage we get will allow millions of people from all over the world to see our canals, rivers and towpaths, and will hopefully encourage some people to make a trip to see them.”

Pascale Milite from Google, said: “We are thrilled to be collaborating with the Canal & River Trust on such a fun project, and we hope to help boost the discovery of and make these historical canals accessible to more people in the UK and across the world through Street View technology.”

The Trekker loan follows work last year to enable people from around the world to see some of the wonders of Britain’s canals, rivers and towpaths, when the Google Trike mapped Caen Hill lock flight in Wiltshire and the Grade I listed World Heritage Site around Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales.

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