Google’s Camel-Cam Street View


It’s given us robot cars and internet-enabled glasses—but when it came to creating a “Street View” of a desert, Google hit on a low-tech solution. It hired a camel. (CNN)

Use our resources to find out how else scientists and geographers obtain data—and how you can help! (Camel not required.)

Discussion Ideas


  • CNN got one thing wrong in their article! They say Raffia, the camel mapping the Liwa Desert, is the first animal used to carry the Trekker camera. Why is this wrong?


Map by Google Maps, obviously
Map by Google Maps, obviously
  • Take a look at this map of where Street View is available. Do you think Raffia or her camelid cousins could help Google provide Street View to areas not currently represented on the map?


  • Raffia’s Trekker camera is not entirely unlike Nat Geo’s own Crittercam—they’re both cameras mounted on animals. Take a look at our collection of Crittercam material here. Do you think Street View could use any of the critters that have participated in the Nat Geo program? Why or why not?
    • Probably not. There are actually a lot more differences than similarities between Trekker and Crittercam.
      • Trekker is huge and somewhat unwieldy. The camel in Abu Dhabi had to be carefully, specially fitted for the device. Crittercams are much more versatile. They are hardy enough to attach to the animal itself—and to safely detach at random locations later on.
      • Raffia needs a herder to guide her around the desert in order to get the Street Views Google wants. This requires a domesticated animal. Most Crittercam critters are wild animals. The point of Crittercam is to discover new, critter’s-eye-view perspectives of the world.



CNN: Google hires camel for desert Street View

NG Ideas: Get Real-Time Data

NG Collection: Crittercam

NG glossary:

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