Boston’s Faneuil Hall Is a Finalist for Google Street View Visit—Vote Now, Then Meet Trike Builder Dan Ratner
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three adults plus the rider, so we are well under the weight they can handle. We modified the frames to suit what we needed in terms of mounting the camera, and we engineered other stuff to get the camera up high. It’s basically just like a mountain bike, where you have this really low first gear. I was able to ride it up a mountain bike trail.
X: Do you have to adjust the camera to take pictures less often, given that a bike goes a lot slower than a car?
DR: The camera always has to know where it is in order for us to put the data back onto a map, so it takes a picture at certain increments of spacing. That’s gauged by how frequently we want to serve up the panos [the panoramic Street View images]. Right now we’re treating the trike like a pedal-powered car; what you see on the trike trails is the same as what yould see on a normal road. The spacing [between panos] is the same.
X: Do you still get out on the trike?
DR: Not really. During the development of it, I was out there riding all the time, just to try to break things. And I was involved in the data collection with some of our first partners—the full soup-to-nuts experience. But at this point we are far enough along in the program that we have full-time riders that we’ve hired and that is their daily job. The majority of what I do as a mechanical engineer is work on hardware related to the Street View team. It’s more idea generation and new product development.
X: Do you have any personal favorites among the locations on the trike finalists lists?
DR: Being a mountain biker, I have a penchant for some of the outdoor stuff. [The finalists in the parks and trails category included places like Boulder Creek Bike Path in Colorado, the Stevens Creek Trail in Californian, and the Schuylkill River Trail in Pennsylvania.] I’m more inclined that way. But I wouldn’t want to go so far as to say I have a favorite. Who knows, I might wind up really loving the Bronx Zoo.
Below: A Google YouTube video showing Ratner on the trike.
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