Talking about what goes into its improved 3D maps, Google casually mentioned today that it uses a fleet of airplanes to repeatedly fly over cities, shooting photos at 45-degrees and from directly overhead. That's cool tech, and all, but, like, Google has its own damn fleet of airplanes.
Some of the planes are owned by Google, and the rest are under exclusive contract, but all are at Google's beck and call. For 3D maps, or, presumptively, for anything else Google wants to do. Mat Honan, who's on site today at Google, thinks they're probably Cessnas and similar small aircraft, but still! A fleet of Google-owned planes in the world is really, really cool. And possibly terrifying.