When one thinks of Google, it is reasonable to associate the tech giant with the many technological innovations it has spear-headed. From search engines, to maps, to social media and beyond the company is constantly changing the way we think about and use the internet.
But in a surprise twist, Google has turned away from the technologically advanced cars it uses to compile images for its Street View mapping and and is instead relying on a rather old school transportation method to complete the task.
Google has hired a camel, CNN reports. Google spokeswoman Monica Baz said that the camel is equipped with a Google Trekker —a 360-degree camera—to capture desert images in places that a car cannot venture.
The camel, named Raffia, 10 years old, is documenting the Abu Dhabi’s Liwa Oasis. Raffia is Google’s low-impact solution to the desert’s inaccessibility to motor vehicles.
Usually the Google Street View cars are out doing the fieldwork necessary to collect first-person perspective images for Google mapping purposes. In the case of more remote areas, it just isn’t feasible for a car to travel—but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be cataloged for virtual exploration.
In a statement to The National Newspaper, Baz said Google tries to customize its approach to every environment and location.
“In the case of Liwa we fashioned it in a way so that it goes on a camel so that it can capture imagery in the best, most authentic and least damaging way,” she said.
While this is the first time the company has used an animal, Street View cameras have been on boats and gone underwater in the past.
Weather conditions and time of day are all taken into consideration by photographers when planning to capture Street View images.
Baz said that she thinks having Street View available in the UAE will be a big boost for tourism, particularly in places like Liwa where a large percentage of views come from foreigners. She thinks people will value being able to see a location before planning a visit.