By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Fancy a trip to Taronga Zoo without having to leave the house, catch the bus over the Bridge and wrestle with the crowds? Or, planning on going to zoo and want to see what’s on offer? Google Australia today launched its new mapping trike, a purpose built three-wheeler with a camera configuration capable of creating streetview images of hard to reach places – such as the zoo’s walkways.

Standing outside the giraffe enclosure this morning, Google engineering manager Raul Vera said this new innovation would allow users to view some of most hard-to-reach places in the country: all it needs is a path about the width of a wheelchair.

To kick off this new feature, Google Australia is asking the general public to submit their own ideas for what could be featured when the new streetview images are rolled out later this year. There are four categories into which people can make recommendations: City Life, Cultural Areas, Natural Wonders and Hidden Gems.

Business-wise, this feature could become a boon for retailers, especially those based in malls and shopping centres. In time, these densely populated and hard-to-navigated centres of retail will be mapped out with images, so consumers can take a look at how big this Harvey Norman store is, or exactly where in the destination retail complex the Good Guys store is located.

With privacy always a major concern when discussing Google Street View, Vera stressed that the trike will only visit public areas, and that all faces will be blurred. In a lighthearted moment, he said that most people photographed so far in the trike’s testing phase have actually been taking photos of the trike itself, so unique is it to see something like that when out and about.