I was taking a walk in the neighborhood today morning when a black colored Mahindra Scorpio went past me. I noticed a box (similar to plastic crates that are used in super markets,approximately 1ftx1ftx2ft) mounted on the top of the Scorpio. I did not pay much attention as I thought it to be some luggage.
Few minutes later, the same vehicle came back in the opposite direction. What caught my attention was a 2ft rod/pipe mounted on top of the box with a camera at the end. I think this is a Google Street View car as I’ve seen street view cars on the net. I never knew that Google is in the process of creating street view maps of India. I could not take the photo of the scorpio as it passed away before I could take out my mobile, unlock the password protected keypad and start the camera.
It was a black Scorpio LX/M2Di as there was no cladding around the car. The vehicle is MH registered, I think google has either outsourced or is managing the India street view coverage from Maharasthra. The camera mounting is very different from the street view cars that are seen on the net and I did not notice any “Google” stickering on the vehicle. I’m not sure if it is really a google car, but as per my knowledge no one else is using these kind of camera mounted vehicles.
While every street view vehicle on the net I saw was either a sedan or hatchback, the vehicle I spotted in Hyderabad today is an SUV. They probably choose Scorpio as it is a tall vehicle and the camera at such height might be useful in as the traffic in India is too high and there are always vehicles around you blocking the view. The camera mounting seemed to be much lighter than the ones seen on street view cars in other countries. They have probably mounted most of the hardware inside the vehicle as Scorpio is a bigger vehicle. Its just a box on the top, a pipe coming out of the box and a camera at the end of the pipe. The camera also is smaller than the ones on the net. From what I could see from the distance, it is not bigger than 8inch or 10 inch cube and has a lens on four sides.
On searching the net, I noticed some more people have spotted scorpios mounted with cameras in other states, though not in Andhra Pradesh. Now that the vehicle is here, I hope there will be more spotters and we can know more about it soon along with some pics.
It will be great to see street view of India on maps. Hope this is not too far now.
Update : The said car turns out to be of WoNoBo.com, a street view alternative from an indian company for indian cities. The website is now up and running, though I think its way behind street view in terms of ease of use and smoothness, its a good start. So, do not expect google streetview of Hyderabad any time soon.