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From Everest to Stoke Bruerne: Google's Street View backpack hits the UK

Known as the Trekker, the 40lbs backpack snaps 360 degree images every 2.5 seconds from 15 cameras

It’s been used to map some of the world’s most extraordinary and remote locations, from the Grand Canyon to Mount Everest, and now Google’s special Street View backpack is coming to the UK.

With its sphere of 15 cameras taking 360 degree photos every 2.5 seconds, the Trekker weighs 40lbs and is used by Google to create Street View images in remote locations. Now, in its first visit to the UK, it will be mapping the country’s canals and waterways.

The backpack will be worn by volunteers from the Canal & River Trust, who will walk over 100 miles a month through England and Wales to capture these important heritage sites.

“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,” said Pascale Milite from Google.

Starting from London’s Regent’s Canal the Trekker will take in some of the UK’s Seven Wonders of the Waterways, including the longest, deepest and highest canal in the country – the Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

Other locations on the list to get snapped by the backpack include Bingley Five Rise (a ‘staircase’ set of locks and another Wonder of the Waterways) and the blacksmith’s workshop at Stoke Bruerne, described as “one of the most picturesque canal villages” by the Canal & River Trust.

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Wendy Hawk from the Canal & River Trust trials Googleís latest Street View Technology, the Google Trekker, at Londonís Little Venice. PA

Wendy Hawk, 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.”

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The Trekker is loaned to various trust and charities that feel that their locations deserve to appear on Street View. PA


“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.”

The Trekker is in fact only one in a range of Street View vehicles that Google uses. As well as the backpack version there’s also a snowmobile (created for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver), a trike (it mapped Stonehenge in 2009) and an upright trolley (pushed gently through museums and galleries).

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The Dream Team: the snowmobile, trolley and trike used by Google Street View to map different locations.