For those who ever wanted their own Street View car, similar to Google’s camera on wheels used to capture images for Google Maps, there’s now a small version made out of LEGOs. Using the LEGO Mindstorms NXT kit earlier this year, Mark Crosbie designed his own miniature Street View car in May, complete with four webcams, a GPS sensor, XBee wireless transmitter for data and a module that allows the car to be remotely controlled by a Sony PlayStation 2 joystick.
According to the NXT Step enthusiast site, Crosbie is this month working on a second, more advanced version of his LEGO Street View car, but here’s a short video of the first edition in action.
Is this a robot that people will actually build and use? Probably not, but it’s a brilliant example of a concept I’ve been shouting about for more than a year: Connectivity combined with sensors — basic smartphone phones available today — are bridging the digital and physical worlds through robots and other products. Om recently made this very same point when talking about a smart terrarium, saying “This marriage of the analog and digital worlds shows that in the future everything will be connected.”
I can’t help but wonder if autonomous, inexpensive Street View robots could be used to map out every street on the planet. No, such a connected robot wouldn’t help Google with Street View privacy concerns or the occasional nude image surprise, but it could create the maps faster and cheaper. I’d try to make my own LEGO Street View car, but since I work in a home office, I’m not the best candidate for needing such a thing!