The Funny Backpack Google Uses To Map the Insides of Buildings

By Sarah Zhang on at

In its ongoing quest to map the entire planet, Google has turned its all-seeing eyes on the next logical place: the indoors. Google is now showing off six new indoor maps and the Cartographer, a backpack full of high-tech sensors that makes floor plans in real-time.

You have likely already seen Trekker — the Street View backpack with a ball of cameras attached – which has brought back stunning views of remote mountains and canyons. Cartographer is its equally nerdy if a bit less rugged cousin. The backpack is full of equipment for simultaneous mapping and localisation (SLAM), basically a bevy of sensors that track the location of the backpack-wearer and the walls all around.

"As the backpack-wearer walks through a building," explains Google, "SLAM technology generates the floor plan in real-time and displays it on an Android tablet connected to the backpack's computer." Points of interest can be added along the way. A 39-storey building, like the San Francisco Marriott Marquis hotel above, can be mapped in a few hours — not much more time than it takes to simply walk through it.

The Funny Backpack Google Uses To Map the Insides of Buildings

[Google Maps]