Monday, May 31, 2010

Estimation of Safe Walking Route using Google Street View

Woman Follows Google Maps “Walking” Directions, Gets Hit, Sues. Despite how she claims that her blackberry did not display the usual warning “Walking directions are in beta. Use caution – This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths,” anyone with a common sense could see from street view that there is no sidewalk, and the path might be dangerous for a pedestrian to cross.

But can Google use street view to automatically assess the walkability of a path? Maybe. At least on busy streets, you will find pedestrians. A lot of image recognition research has gone into detecting people in an image, so if you detect people in a street view, it is likely a walkable street. Even if there is no people, it might be possible to detect common pavement painting pattern such as pedestrian cross-walk, or pedestrian walk lights. A street with those computer detectable elements is very likely to be walk-safe.
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