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.


The data from the planes is combined with data from satellite imagery to make the 3D models. 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. The majority of the data comes from the planes that are under contract, so the fleet is probably pretty diverse. And regardless, a fleet of Google-owned planes in the world is really, really cool. And possibly terrifying.

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