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Google Enlists Student Tech in Web Mapping Wars

Google has licensed remote sensing technology developed by a team of Stanford University students to help it compete with Microsoft in the race to build the best photographic Web map of the planet Earth, according to a report in the San Jose Mercury News.

Google licensed the software from Stanford Robotics, which wrote the program that helped Stanley, a Volkswagen-based robot, navigate the nooks and crannies of the Mojave desert and eventually win the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge.

Google will use the software to help it in the competition for users of Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth, according the Mercury News story by Elise Ackerman. Both programs use photographs to create photo-based maps of searchable locations.

The technology will enable Google to scan building faces, a feature available in Virtual Earth but so far not in Google Earth.

Sebastian Thrun, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab and leader of the Stanford Racing Team, will also work part-time at Google, Ackerman reported.

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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