Homeless in Vancouver: Google Street View car—the 2019 model

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      Wednesday (August 7) I snagged my first photo, for 2019, of a Google Street View car.

      This wasn’t my first sighting of the year though; that was back on May 22.

      Comparing this year’s Street View car photos with the ones I snapped in August 2018, I can say that Google has at least changed the make of the car carrying its panoramic camera mast, if almost nothing else.

      Model behaviour of Google Street View cars

      The Google Street View car seen a year ago on August 7, 2018.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      The Google Street View car that I photographed on August 7, 2018, passing through the westbound lane of West Broadway, was a 2017 Hyundai Elantra GT, bearing California licence plates.

      Previously, in 2014 and 2016, the Google Street View car that appeared in Vancouver had been a Subaru Impreza with Ontario licence plates and a vinyl livery combining Google company colours and mapping symbols.

      The body of the Elantra was entirely sheathed in a striking, new-style vinyl wrap depicting a mountainous, cloud-shrouded, panoramic landscape. The camera mast atop the Elantra similarly represented a new generation of mapping capability.

      This year’s model Google Street View car stopped at the light on West Broadway.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      The Street View car I photographed Wednesday on West Broadway was—brand-wise at least—something different. It was a late model Honda HR-V.

      Style-wise, however, it was another snub-nosed hatchback, almost identical to the Hyundai Elantra GL.

      The licence plates on the Elantra were from California but, like the previous Google Street View cars I had seen, the HR-V bore Ontario plates—in holders branded by Ideal Honda dealership of Mississauga, Ontario.

      Mississauga, by the way, is a suburb of Ontario’s capital Toronto and served as the Canadian home-away-from-home of Colonel Harland Sanders, of KFC fame, from 1965 to 1980.

      The Ontarian HR-V was wrapped in a panoramic view of different but similar terrain as the Elantra had been.

      This was more or less the extent of the differences between the 2018 and 2019 versions of Google’s panoramic mapping car.

      The number and shapes of components on the Honda HR-V’s camera mast appeared to be exactly the same as in 2018, and the white, square-tube, camera mast itself looked virtually identical. Only the feet on the ends of the four-legged mast stand differed slightly.

      In 2018, the four legs resting on the roof of the Elantra ended in what looked like black caps. But the legs supporting the mast on the roof of the 2019 HR-V ended in flat, white, rectangular feet.

      The only other thing I can say about this latest appearance of a Google Street View car is that it returned in less than 20 minutes through the eastbound lane of West Broadway.

      There is no particular point in my marking these increasingly mundane periodic passages through Vancouver of mobile mapping platforms—whether Google’s today, or Apple’s in June, beyond the fact that they interest me.

      Otherwise, it’s just part of the way that I like to record the small, often cyclical, events that mark the passage of seasons and time in my world, such as the first wobbly wasp of spring, the first ripe fig of autumn, or the first snowfall of winter.

      It’s true that long-time homeless people often come to see the world in similar day-to-day and seasonal terms but I was like this long before I became homeless.

      Stanley Q. Woodvine is a homeless resident of Vancouver who has worked in the past as an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer.

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