Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Thursday, 31 July 2008 12:52 UK

Google camera car hits the street

Google's Street View car takes panoramic images of streets
Google's Street View car takes panoramic images of streets

By Paul McKillion
BBC News

An odd-looking car has been spotted patrolling the streets of Belfast.

Four cameras are mounted on the roof, each pointing in different directions. The car is part of the latest venture by Google, called Street View.

When the project is completed, it is designed to allow users to click on a map of Belfast and get a panoramic ground level view of the streets.

Many of the big cities in the United States have already been covered, and now work has begun in the UK.

Google has said it will be useful to many people, including those moving house who want to check out an area, or tourists wanting to get an idea of the places they will be visiting.

People have posted sightings of the cars, in different areas throughout the UK, on message boards and chatrooms.

Some have welcomed the latest development, others have raised concerns about the privacy of the people Google has photographed.

The company confirmed to BBC News that pictures were being taken in Belfast, and added that photographs across Europe would have faces and licence plates blurred.

Street View
Photos of locations the US are already connected to maps

"Street View only features imagery taken on public property. This imagery is no different from what any person can readily capture or see walking down the street," said a spokesman for Google.

He added: "We respect the fact that people may not want certain types of images featured on the service.

"We provide easily accessible tools for flagging inappropriate or sensitive imagery for review and removal."

The company said it did not know when street views of Belfast could be seen online.

Google's Street View under fire
09 Jul 08 |  Science/Nature
Google defends Street View tool
07 Jul 08 |  Technology
Google faces 'Street View block'
04 Jul 08 |  Technology

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