August 23, 2014

Elyria
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Google’s Street View car rolls into Lorain County

ELYRIA — Some Elyria locales are being captured in pictures — online pictures, that is.

The Google Street View car pulls through the Elyria Shopping Center at state Route 57 and Center Ridge on Monday. (CT photo by Bruce Bishop.)

The Google Street View car pulls through the Elyria Shopping Center at state Route 57 and Center Ridge on Monday. (CT photo by Bruce Bishop.)

While Chronicle-Telegram Photographer Bruce Bishop was out on assignment, he caught the Google Street View Car on camera at the Elyria Shopping Center off of state Route 57 — and they caught him, too.

Google Street View, a technology featured in Google Maps and Google Earth, provides panoramic pictures of streets and destinations across the world. The company employs drivers to run their special fleet of Google Maps Camera cars to capture 360 degrees’ worth of photo images with the car’s 15 lenses.

The driver wouldn’t provide his name or any other information. He told Bishop that he’d have to call the headquarters in California for that information.

“He was very nice, for someone who couldn’t actually say anything,” Bishop said.

The man drove what appeared to be an official Street View car — a painted Subaru with California plates, with a large appendage coming off of the roof, holding what appeared to be camera equipment.

But calling Google is akin to calling the White House — not one individual at the Google headquarters in California, or at any of Google’s offices in Ann Arbor, Chicago, or Pittsburgh, could be reached for comment. Google has no offices in Ohio.

Bishop was not allowed to look inside the car. But that didn’t mean he didn’t try.

“I caught a glimpse of a lot of electronic stuff — monitors and things,” he said.

Each Street View car, according to Google’s Street View website, is equipped with “motion sensors to track its position, a hard drive to store data, a small computer running the system, and lasers to capture 3-D data to determine distances within the Street View imagery.”

When locations are not car-accessible, the Street View team boards trikes and snowmobiles.

Bishop received a tip from a “fellow geek” that the car was in town and sped off to the scene. The car, he said, took two passes around the shopping center and left. Bishop himself was captured by the crew’s cameras — it was shooting pictures as he was shooting pictures of it.

According to its website, the Street View team is currently photographing neighboring Medina and Cuyahoga counties, among 13 total in Ohio. Lorain County is not listed, although the website notes that “it is always possible that our cars may … be operating in areas that are not listed.”

Google Street View was first introduced in the United States in 2007, and has since expanded to locations globally. Street View first came to the Cleveland area in 2008.

Contact Emily Kennedy at 329-7243 or ekennedy@chroniclet.com.