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Google Closes its Controversial Chinese Search Engine Project

Senior Google employees have also resigned citing lack of corporate transparency after the company revealed its efforts to re-enter China through “Dragonfly”

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FILE - A woman walks past the logo for Google at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Nov. 5, 2018. VOA

Google’s controversial China search engine project, named Dragonfly, has been terminated and employees working on it have been reportedly reassigned.

The controversial Chinese search engine previously in development by Google that raised privacy, censorship, and human rights concerns is finally, officially, no more, mashable.com on Tuesday quoted Karan Bhatia, Google’s vice president of global government affairs and public policy, as saying.

Responding to questions from Republican Senator Josh Hawley, the top Google executive said: “We have terminated Project Dragonfly.”

This unequivocal response is a departure from previous couched statements by Google executives regarding Dragonfly’s status. For example, in December, chief executive Sundar Pichai told Congress that “right now there are no plans for us to launch a search product in China”, the report added.

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A man walks past a Google sign outside with a span of the Bay Bridge at rear in San Francisco, May 1, 2019. VOA

Meanwhile, the tech giant’s offices in the US, UK, Canada, India, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Sweden, Switzerland, and Denmark have witnessed protests by human rights groups over its plan to re-enter China through the censored search application.

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Senior Google employees have also resigned citing lack of corporate transparency after the company revealed its efforts to re-enter China through “Dragonfly”.

The search engine giant had launched a search engine in China in 2006 but pulled the service out of the country in 2010, citing Chinese government efforts to limit free speech and block websites. (IANS)

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Google Maps Captures Over 10 mn Miles of Street View Imagery

The company collects street imagery via a fleet of Street View cars, each equipped with nine cameras that capture high-definition imagery from every vantage point possible

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Google Maps
There's also the Street View trekker on Google Maps, a backpack that collects imagery from places where driving isn't possible.

Google Maps have captured more than 10 million miles of Street View imagery – a distance that could circle the globe over 400 times.

The company announced on Friday that Google Earth now lets people browse more than 36 million square miles of high definition satellite images from various providers – covering more than 98 per cent of the entire population – to see the world from above.

“While these stunning photos show us parts of the world we may never get a chance to visit, they also help Google Maps accurately model a world that is changing each day,” said Thomas Escobar, Senior Product Manager, Google Maps.

The idea of Street View started as a side project more than 12 years ago as part of a goal to map the entire world.

The company collects street imagery via a fleet of Street View cars, each equipped with nine cameras that capture high-definition imagery from every vantage point possible.

“These cameras are athermal, meaning that theya�re designed to handle extreme temperatures without changing focus so they can function in a range of environments,” Escobar added.

Each Street View car includes its own photo processing center and lidar sensors that use laser beams to accurately measure distance.

There’s also the Street View trekker, a backpack that collects imagery from places where driving isn’t possible.

These trekkers are carried by boats, sheep, camels, and even scout troops to gather high quality photos from multiple angles, often in some of the hardest-to-map places around the world.

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Google Maps have captured more than 10 million miles of Street View imagery – a distance that could circle the globe over 400 times. Pixabay

In 2019 alone, Street View images from the Google Maps community have helped the company assign addresses to nearly seven million buildings in previously under-mapped places like Armenia, Bermuda, Lebanon, Myanmar, Tonga, Zanzibar and Zimbabwe.

Once Google collects photos, it uses a technique called photogrammetry to align and stitch together a single set of images.

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“These images show us critically important details about an area-things like roads, lane markings, buildings and rivers, along with the precise distance between each of these objects. All of this information is gathered without ever needing to set foot in the location itself,” said Google. (IANS)