Have you ever spotted a Google vehicle driving around your town? If so, you’ve likely witnessed the creation of Google Street View firsthand. But the Street View camera is headed to new heights. The Guardian’s Will Coldwell followed a Street View engineer to his latest and most ambitious destination: Machu Picchu.
Google Street View is a force to be reckoned with—it’s taken over 20 petabytes of street photos and changed the way people use maps. It’s also gaining recognition from researchers who think it could be a critical tool in assessing the fallout from natural disasters. But one of the service’s most intriguing applications isn’t for people trying to find a destination in person. Rather, the tool has gained a following among those hoping to see the world without leaving home.
Coldwell writes that Google is actively trying to expand its list of far-flung destinations with the help of tricycles, a snowmobile and even a trolley. He followed Daniel Filip, a Google Maps engineer, and his team as they trekked a backpack equipped with 15 high-res cameras to the peak of Machu Picchu. The project represents a triumph for Google, who waited years to get permission to photograph the mountain.
The Incan icon is 7,970 feet tall and attracts millions of tourists annually, but it's quite a hike—both to the mountain and up its flanks. The project came right on time since the magnificent testament to the Inca Empire could get harder to visit in the future. The Peruvian Times reports that in the face of UNESCO pressure, the Peruvian government is discussing ways to limit traffic up the mountain to better preserve the ruins.
If Google’s virtual trip up the majestic mountain infects you with the travel bug, don’t worry: Google has an entire program devoted to international adventures. Check out its collection of treks for a journey through the Amazon, a tour of Angkor Wat, a hike through the Grand Canyon and more.