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.