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Posted on Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.

Have you spotted the Google street-view car yet?

By Ben Freed

For people who need a bit of a nudge to get their flowers planted and porches cleaned up, a Google street-car has been spotted in and around Ann Arbor the past few days.

The cars - complete with 360-degree camera system affixed to their roofs - criss-cross the country taking snapshots that appear on the street-view portion of Google Maps.


The Google street-view car on West Stadium at West Liberty in Ann Arbor.

Nicole Hodges |

Hassan Hodges, director of technology at, spotted the car on West Stadium by West Liberty, and said his wife has seen the vehicle multiple times around the west side of town. It's been spotted in Ypsilanti, too.

While the street-view cars tend to be viewed with bemusement or curiosity, they have faced their share of criticism both in the US and abroad. When introduced in England in early 2009, concerns over invasion of privacy were so great that, according to a story in the Times of London, in one village residents formed a human chain to stop the car from entering and photographing their homes.

Jake Parrillo, a Google spokesman, shared steps Google takes with the images collected by their street-view cars to avoid invasions of privacy.

“Once the photographs have been taken, they go through computer processing to make them ready for use on Google Maps,” he said in a statement. “This includes cutting-edge face blurring technology, which helps make sure that passers-by in the photographs can't be identified, and we also blur legible license plates.”

Parrillo also offered a tip if you don’t want your house or face to be seen by people virtually wandering through your city.

“They can simply click on ""Report a problem"" on the bottom left-hand side of the Street View image, submit a request, and we'll blur the image,” he said.

Here in the United States, Google was under scrutiny last year when it admitted that the cars mistakenly collected private data from non-password protected WiFi networks as they crisscrossed the globe.

Alan Eustace, Google’s Senior VP of Engineering, wrote in a blog post in October that although the information was fragmented, in some instances “entire emails and URLs were captured, as well as passwords.”

According to the Huffington Post, Google said that it deleted all of the accidentally collected data and managed to avoid any serious punishments from the court system.

Ben Freed is a summer intern at You can reach him by email at or by phone at (734)-623-4674. Follow him on Twitter @BFreedInA2.



Sat, Jun 11, 2011 : 2:11 a.m.

Hide your kids, hide your wife and hide your husband, too...


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

"when it admitted that the cars mistakenly collected private data" - that's a hoot. So they drive by a open g-network with one second of "access", whats that . . . . potentially a few megabyte of your information. Google's a company with $46 billion in equity and 23,000+ employees that just happened to accidentally collect this private information in multiple countries over a long period of time. I can tell when my freakin' iPod can see on open WiFi, and Google engineers didn't KNOW this was going on. And the outcome? Google stretched its arm out and exposed its proverbial wrist for a quick slap.

Roger Rayle

Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 12:25 p.m.

Besides the Google Street View cars and vans, they have a tricycle mounted unit to document some park trails (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> and a snowmobile unit to document ski trails (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. Early this year, Google Japan used a boat mounted camera to record the first &quot;street view on water&quot; (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. This technique would be useful to help show historical sites along the Huron River as part of HRWC's Huron River Water Trail project: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Elizabeth Riggs gave a talk about the Water Trail a couple of weeks ago: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Also, anyone interested in historical imagery should know about the locally developed website <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> that allows posting of old photos superimposed with available Google Street Views. Really neat.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 2:29 p.m.

Oh, I've been to that historic website before. It is really fascinating, and SUCH a great idea! I hope more people add to it.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 12:19 p.m.

I saw it driving down W. Cross by the Ugly Mug in Ypsi. :P

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 12:01 p.m.

Lock down your WiFi, folks! Good Night and Good Grief


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 5:50 a.m.

It was in Columbus, OH last week: driving up and down Jim Tressel's street the whole afternoon. LOL!


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 3:10 a.m.

Spotted this afternoon in the parking lot of Lakeside Elementary. We waved hello.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 2:24 a.m.

What I don't understand is why they are doing Ann Arbor for a second time, when many places have not even been done once.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 11:59 a.m.

I agree. My house is already on Google, why take another picture of it? It looked better the last time. This time it probably caught me clearing off the peeling paint to get it ready to be re-painted.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 12:49 a.m.

Thanks for the heads-ups! The last time a G-vehicle passed through town it photographed a lovely (sarcasm) selection of freebies that I had just put on the curb. The freebies were gone before the end of the day. The images on Google map have lingered for a few years.

Homeland Conspiracy

Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 11:53 p.m.

Smile your on Big Brother camera

Happy Puppy

Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 11:19 p.m.

It passed us by in Washington DC last week and I can't wait to see if our picture is on Google Earth!

Skylar Woodman

Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 11:16 p.m.

I saw the same car parked at a house in Ypsi this morning.

Jojo B

Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 10 p.m.

I saw it on Liberty/Division. Hope it didn't catch me picking my nose.

Tom Joad

Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 9:53 p.m.

I want to be seen...

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 9:25 p.m.

looks like one of them there storm chaser ve-hicles.

Atticus F.

Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 9:06 p.m.

I spotted it Tuesday, getting off Whitmore Lake RD, heading onto Main Street. I had to do a double take to figure out what it was.