Google lets you zip through the Amazon jungle (Thinkstock)
Google lets you zip through the Amazon jungle
Lexile

Google wants show you what it's like to zip through trees in the Amazon jungle.

The images released in 2015 add to the already diverse collection of photos supplementing Google's widely used digital maps. The maps' "Street View" option mostly provides panoramic views of cities and neighborhoods photographed by car-mounted cameras, but Google also has found creative ways to depict exotic locations where there are no roads.

In its foray into the wilderness, Google teamed up with environmental protection group Amazonas Sustainable Foundation, or FAS, to explore a remote part of an Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Google Inc. lent FAS its Trekker device, a camera mounted on an apparatus originally designed to be carried like a backpack by hikers walking on trails.

FAS, though, sent the Trekker down a zip line. Google is renowned for going out on a technological limb, but even this project made the company nervous at first, said Karin Tuxen-Bettman, who oversees Google's Street View partnerships.

The setup required FAS workers to tread through the rainforest to find a place where they could string the zip line so the Trekker wouldn't bump into tree trunks and branches as it zoomed through the thick canopy. With the help of some monkeys who joined their scouting expedition, FAS workers found just enough room to erect a zip line for the Trekker's roughly 65-yard trip.

"One of the things that I love about working at Google is that if a partner comes to us with a crazy idea, we will probably try it," Tuxen-Bettman said.

Since Google developed the Trekker camera in 2012, the device has been dispatched on other unusual journeys. The Trekker went scuba diving in the Galpagos Islands to take underwater photographs of the preserve, and traveled on a dog sled in the Canadian Artic to photograph the tundra.

Google's Street View feature has raised privacy concerns through the years because its photographs have occasionally captured images of unsuspecting bystanders engaged in embarrassing activities or near places where they didn't want to be seen. Cars carrying Street View cameras also secretly vacuumed up emails and other personal information transmitted over unsecure Wi-Fi networks from 2007 to 2010, sparking outrage and legal action around the world.

Privacy issues shouldn't be an issue in any of the photography taken by the zip-lining Trekker. Birds and insects are the only visible forms of life in the pictures it took.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is Google willing to pursue crazy ideas? How does Google benefit?
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COMMENTS (27)
  • Time-Pav
    4/16/2015 - 10:02 a.m.

    I myself have been on a zip lining tour through the forests of Cancun, Mexico! It was a very exciting and beautiful experience, and I am very excited to be able to do that on my computer, thanks to Google!

  • annel-Fit
    4/22/2015 - 10:26 a.m.

    I think that this is a really cool idea because a lot of people cant afford to go there and experience all the cool things. This makes it super easy and could be very helpful in researching. People can now see in HD how amazing this place really is and what the terrain looks like. I think that Google will get a lot of support from teachers who can use it for their class room. I dont know how scientist will like this because this means that there will have to be big camera crews coming through and disturbing the wild life. I however think that it's a really cool idea.

  • JamiTCamo
    5/26/2015 - 04:45 p.m.

    I think that it probably took a lot of work to come up with the technology for this. The pictures must have been amazing and really pretty. If they continue to use this they will still get complaints, but they will be fine because there will be a lot more positive than negative. I think this was a great idea and has made amazing discoveries.

  • samirad-cel
    10/18/2017 - 12:00 p.m.

    I personally would enjoy being one of the people working on this project. Not only are they allowing people to explore different parts virtually, but they are also testing the technological limits. And the monkeys, woah. I would go crazy if I were going around and a monkey popped up beside me. I think Google is willing to do crazy things because there's a great chance that they will exceed in it and make more money.

  • JamesDeGiacomo-ban
    11/06/2017 - 07:33 a.m.

    It's really cool that Google lets you zipline through the jungle.

  • JulieAlcaro-ban
    11/06/2017 - 07:34 a.m.

    Google is willing to pursue crazy ideas so they can have more money if the crazy idea is successful. They beefit with more money to do even more crazy ideas

  • SamMcGregor-ban
    11/06/2017 - 07:35 a.m.

    I like how google isn't afraid to try anythings. I appreciate how they want to make us see the real word the best we can if we can't experience it live.

  • StellaSchofield-ban
    11/06/2017 - 07:35 a.m.

    I think that would be fun to take a virtual tour of the amazon jungle because not a lot of people would ever visit it in real life. It would be really cool to view this jungle.

  • GracePfaff-ban
    11/06/2017 - 07:37 a.m.

    Google is willing to pursue crazy ideas because they get to add to their maps. Google benefits because they get to try new things.

  • PaigeHolloway-ban
    11/06/2017 - 07:38 a.m.

    Google is willing to pursue crazy ideas so they can widen their range if places covered in maps. They benefit because they have more areas on their maps that people can explore by using the apps or website.

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