Every one of us, at one point or another, fantasize about working as a Google driver. Driving the only Prius in the world with the ability to picks up chicks at every intersection. Shortly after you start following the poor car around, you immediately get on your phone at the next intersection and start digging for the answer: how do you get hired to be driver of a Google street view car? The truth is … it’s harder than you think.
A good starting point would be to start working with Google, but then again, not even Google jobs has information about the street view positions. Over the years, people have put up a sort of “guide” on how to get picked up by the Google Street View team. The details available online have all been put together by different people – from previous drivers, to friends of friends and other liers.
From what we’ve been able to put together, Google works with a lot of “partners” that provide drivers and images as subcontractors. Pier Far had the chance to talk with one of the drivers as he was doing a pass by. According to Far, the driver of showed up to a location for a “driving job”. It wasn’t until after he was given the keys to the car that he realized it was the, now famous and most recognizable “Easter egg” in the world, the Google Street view car. From this, it’s easy to conclude that not even the drivers themselves know about the job until it happens.
According to the driver, he was given instructions to drive around his neighborhood, local streets, and city. So, rather than having one driver travel the entire US, Google focuses on small regions at a time. This is because Google understands that local citizens know the ins and the outs of their locale better than anyone else. Drivers are told to drive on every street the car can drive through – from highways, to alleys. Once they get inside the car, you get the system rolling with a simple “pause/record” button which controls the camera.
You have a screen on the passenger side of the vehicle, and in the rear of the vehicle you have the large server which takes care of the rest.
According to Google, Street View imagery is gathered by vehicles equipped with advanced imaging technology – which is just a fancy way of saying a large pole with 8 cameras pointing in different directions that simultaneously take pictures. As the vehicle drives on public streets, it records and monitors all of the events around the car. Once processed, the system blurs out faces and letters (license plates and signs). The images are then uploaded to the main servers where they get processed using images from Google’s own data, and data obtained from different partners. It’s not in real-time, but Google claims that most of the images were taken within the last year.
In the past, Google gave you the option to submit your own images, but sometime between ’10 and ’12 they stopped accepting photo submissions for inclusion in Street View. Really, it’s not like they need that anymore.
According to Ed Parsons, Geospatial Technologist at Google UK, Google drivers are contractors rather than actual Google employees. When Google Street Views first started out they contracted and licensed shots from Immersive Media, a company that specializes in 360-degree videos and imagery. This company was used in order to fill out their coverage in cities like NYC. This company is still used by Google to get the images out of the way. The reason Google can’t hire someone full time to do the job, is because they would be losing money in the long run. You can only travel the streets so many times a day before you cover the area – streets don’t change much after few days, weeks, or months later. If they were updating the servers in real time, then it would be a different story.
To help you further in the actual research, the actual job title is called “GeoImmersive Data Producer” and you have to work for an Immersive Media Company. According to Mac Rumors, the Pay starts at about 24K and they provide a limited budget to live and eat on when you’re on the road.
An article posted on McLeans covered a couple of “dream jobs” one of the jobs that they covered was the Google Maps Driver. They claim that the drivers get paid $2,500 a month for 4 months. While the money might not be the best, bragging rights make up for all of it.
Your best shot is to apply to Immersive Media, or a similar company and hope you get the job that EVERY driver wants to get. Recently, a Redditor did an AMA where he claims that he started his job as the driver by working for Immersive Media, you can find more information on here. Another good place to start is Simply Hired, where you can find every Google Maps Job available, sometimes you may see an add on this site looking for local drivers. When this comes up, the chances are you’ll be driving their car around town, so keep your eyes open for that.
This job is more of a hit or miss position. Since Google does not have the ability to cover the entire globe, they hire small local companies to take care of the work for them. If you work for a local driving service company, you may get a job from Google asking for a driver to drive around a specific location. Outside of that, not even Google employees get the privilege to drive around the US taking pictures of every street they find.
That is, unless you work for Google under the special project’s division – you know, the one where they have the self driving cars – which, if you think about it, will eventually replace the position all together.