Google's Street View project is one of the largest collections of 360 panoramas images available for public use. While most images are taken with the easily recognizable Street View cars, for off-road collection a contraption called the Street View Trekker is used. Today, the Street View team is announcing an upgraded Trekker that has shed a few pounds and improved on image quality.

The cameras on the new Trekker have a wider aperture and increased megapixel count. The Trekker's back panel now features Google Maps branding, possibly to protect contributors from accusatory stares. It won't stop you from looking like a cyborg, but at least with the new design, your back will hurt less if you decide to borrow one of these from Google to contribute to the project.

The old (left) and new (right) Trekker side by side

Google Street View is one of those 20% projects that has grown beyond what many may have expected. The 'Trusted Photographer' Program has helped a lot of businesses make walkthroughs of their establishments. Once Street View was opened up to user contributions, the volume increased even more. With the proliferation of small and cheap 360-degree cameras, of increasingly improving quality (Rita was recently impressed by Insta360's One X), casual VR image capture has never been this accessible. With the release of this upgraded Trekker, Street View's library of off-road panorama's will only grow faster.