Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Street View is incredibly useful when searching for destination details, but it’s grueling work for the search engine giant to deliver it. This factor became apparent once again this week when a driver gathering Street View data in Indonesia crashed into a minivan, then crashed into two more vehicles trying to get out of paying for the damages, according to French news service AFP.
The Street View service delivers a 360-degree view of destinations on Google’s map functions, and this work must be done by real people contracted by Google Inc — at least until its robo-cars take to the streets. For now, Google has to deal with the often messy details of collecting the geographic information. In this case, the Street View driver hit a minivan serving providing public bus service in Bogor, Indonesia.
According to AFP, the driver accompanied the minivan to a repair shop but fled due to fears the price would be too high (it was later estimated at $17.50). The Google Street View driver then tried to flee the scene, but hit another minivan before hitting a third, parked car and giving up his botched getaway. It’s the latest in a series of embarrassing stories surrounding efforts to expand Google Street View’s reach.
In January, Google was forced to investigate an incident in which it appeared a donkey was hit on the side of the road by a Street View driver in Botswana. Google denied the claim and provided evidence the donkey was alive and well. In March, Google had to pay a fine of $7 million for collecting user data without authorization from another Street View project effort.
The issues with collecting data for Street View highlight the delicate balance search companies face today. Google can provide a real service in detailed maps with surround-imaging, yet it must tread very lightly so as not to include information not authorized for its use. Since Google generates so much revenue on the data it collects for marketing purposes, it has every reason to err on the side of caution in a post-Snowden world.