Put A Landscape Scanner On Your Bike And Ride

Google have a fleet of cars travelling the roads of the world taking images for their online StreetView service. You could do much the same thing pedalling on two wheels, with the help of this landscape scanner from [Celian_31].

The basic concept is simple. A powerbank on the bike runs a Raspberry Pi, kitted out with its typical Pi Camera within a 3D-printed housing. A reed switch on the bike’s frame detects pulses from a magnet attached to the valve stem of one tire, and this is used to trigger the taking of photos at regular intervals with the aid of a Python script. Further scripts are then used to knit all the photos taken on a ride together into one contiguous image.

It’s unlikely you’ll recreate Google’s entire StreetView in this fashion. You’d probably want a spherical camera anyway. However, if you wish to undertake regular static surveillance of your local area in an inconspicuous fashion, this would be a great way to do it while also staying in shape. If you do that, please don’t tell us as it would be a major violation of operational security. We’d love to hear about any other projects, though! Video after the break.

33 thoughts on “Put A Landscape Scanner On Your Bike And Ride

  1. I remember putting a dozen line level lasers on a pushbike, over a decade ago now, it produced a six by six grid of lines on the path ahead of the front wheel, you got a good impression of the contours of the path in front as you cycled along at night. No doubt the over the top health and safety of today wouldn’t allow such a device to be sold, at least to the general public, not unless the lasers were invisible to the human eye and cameras were involved.

    1. Visible lasers are substantially safer than invisible ones. You can’t protect yourself by blinking when an invisible laser hits your eye.

      That little comment aside, that’s kind of a cool idea, like a multi-line 3d scanner. (Actually I think I’ve seen some Dyson ads for a vacuum with a line laser to illuminate dust obliquely in front of it which is even closer to your concept) Adding a camera and actually 3d scanning would be cool even if I don’t know what I’d do with a 3d model of the road surface.

    1. I wondered the same. In most places it is allowed to take photos and video in public places, though publishing may require permission of any people that are visible. On the other hand, setting up a surveillance video camera requires notices to be posted.

      This kind of falls in between because you are carrying the camera, but it is not clear you are taking photos.

      1. These principles are somewhat of a misconception because depending on where you are, when it comes down to the de facto laws surrounding taking photos, it’s important to note that there is no right to privacy in public, because a reasonable person would not expect to remain private in a public setting.

        So while some places do post signs to explicitly announce their intention to record, it’s not to meet some sort of legal requirement (in most states), but usually is intended to dissuade criminal acts and behavior moreso than out oif respect for someone people’s privacy.
        Literally almost anyone who wants to take your picture when you’re out in public can do so, including things that may seem a little creepy like photographing children. With regard to publishing, it only requires permission if the photos were used commercially and just because money changes hands does not necessarily make it commercial. It’s more so a legal liability if the photo implies that the people in the photo endorse something in some way or if it’s to be used on a mass production scale for products to be sold, then those would need releases, but any artistic display, including use as news photographs are not categorized as commercial use and within a photographer’s rights.

        And guess what? Photographs are the property of the photographer that made them and are automaticaly copyrighted from the moment of creation. Even if they’re posted online or of you or if you even paid the photographer to take the photo of you, unless it’s laid out in a contract your use of them, all copyright works rights belong to the photographer and would require their permission in terms of copyright laws. A photographer reserves those rights to say the least.

        1. I’ll just point out, since you didn’t, that this is about the USA. Other countries can and do have different laws about stuff. For instance, where I am if you pay a photographer to take a photo for you then you own the copyright, not the photographer (work for hire).

    2. If riding a bike on a public road doing citizen science is illegal, you should move to a better place. Maybe even ride a science bike there.

      Unless you mean ninja riding this bike onto private property.

      Are you still allowed to open your eyes in public where you live?

    3. In the US, you absolutely are.

      In Europe, it’s trickier, but my guess is that this would be allowed. There’s a difference in the law (somehow…) between capturing images of crowds vs. individuals. I would guess that just leaving a camera running on your bike was the former.

    4. Yes, but if you anything you capture violates privacy (e.g. capturing photos into someone’s house, or capturing faces / number plates ) then you would be wise to redact it before publishing.

      1. At least in the US, if the faces and plates are in public, there is no expectation of privacy. In the case of plates, they are literally publicly shown to help identify vehicles. The only way that works is if they are public.

      2. That bit about being able to see into houses in the photo is not true in the US. In the US anything that is visible from public property is not covered in terms of reasonable expectations of privacy. This is specifically due to criminal cases where the courts had to define where the expectation of privacy ended in situations where defendents tried to claim that the police violated their privacy without a warrant or probable cause. To clear up these cases and to lay down the line so to speak, the courts determined that anything that is visible from public property, without any extra effort put in to view it (i.e. intentionally using a ladder to look over a fence or a drone to look through a high window) or visible from some other property that the observer had the right to be on while still not putting in any intentional extra effort, was considered in public view and not private. Later civil cases extended that line to apply to everyone in the US, police or not. This means if you like to dress like Mickey mouse and stand in front of your windows and somebody took a picture from the side walk you wouldn’t be able to sue them for taking that picture since you put yourself in a position to be seen from a public place. Selling that picture would be dicy since they would need to get your consent as the clear and obvious subject of the photo, but if you happened to be in the shot in your window while they took a photo of a friend on the sidewalk you would be out of luck there too. Since you were only a bystander in public you would probably not be able to convince a judge that the photographer needed a model consent from you in order to sell the photo.

        The other bit about license plates and and blurring faces also isn’t legally required in the US for the same reasons as stated above. Again the obvious exception in which you are the clear subject of the photo and therefore a model concent would be in order. Blurring of plates and faces, as stated by others in this thread is done by corporations as a simple courtesy rather than from and law or regulations. The average Joe certainly doesn’t need to.

  2. Wonder if this project wouldn’t benefit from an accelerometer/gyro IMU to record picture orientation while biking.

    Looking at the collages, it’s pretty obvious that the bike leans left and right as it’s pedalled. You could cancel this out in software?

      1. Well, most of the world exists. Australia though is faked, all the footage you see of it was test footage from Stanley Kubrick as part of the effort to fake the moon landing back in the 60 & 70s. It’s pretty obvious if you look at the absurd animals said to be there. I mean sure, an emu is absolutely a beast of a bird and they do exist, but the idea that soldiers equipped with machine guns utterly failed to wage war on them is such an insulting bit of fake news I can’t believe anyone fell for it.

        (/s in case it wasn’t completely obvious by now :D )

  3. I wonder if a couple of linear CCD arrays like you find in flatbed scanners could do a similar job? There is at least one chip that is known to be “arduino friendly”, but you are trading colour for more pixels as it is monochrome.

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