I was wandering around Tsunashima this afternoon (a rather average suburb, half way between Tokyo and Yokohama) and I spotted this strange looking Toyota Prius with a roof-rack and some odd electronics. Then I noticed the "Google Maps" logo on the door and reslised what it was. Luckily I had brought the camera and managed to snap a shot before the viehcle dawdled off in the traffic jams.
The equipment on the roof (just about visible in the photo) consists of two items. A red "tin can" size box on the 1 meter high pole - this I guess is a camera unit. It's much smaller that I expected. Further back on the rack is a yellow flat-panel antenna, pointing up. I'm guessing that it is the GPS receiver.
Now this is all very interesting since there has been no talk, yet, of Street View coming to Japan. Japan has very strict privacy rules and it will be interesting if they will actually be allowed to do this. (I have heard a story of the Japanese police being unable to use speed cameras, because photos taken by the automatic camera, of a speeding driver's car, may be of the driver with someone other than their spouse next to them. This is not something the speeding driver's spouse would be happy to see on opening the envelope from the police.)
Anyway, if it all works out, watch the spot marked above for a photo for a geeky 'gaijin' taking a photo... Gavin 2008/03/23
Update 2008/08/05: And less than six months later, the photos are out. The car must not have been recording when I took the photo since the StreetView shots for that point are a different time of day. However at the point where I first saw the car, here I am. Guess nobody but me will recognise me (especially with the face blurring).
Or view on Google until the images update.
Back to Gavin Brock's google earth page