With a mission to "deliver a more complete picture of the Earth," as William Van Lancker put it back in January, Google Maps has turned to mapping what's below sea level. This week they pulled the wraps off of their "underwater Street View" shots of barrier reefs in Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii, with more to come.
You can mess around with some of the panoramas here. As someone barred from scuba diving due to an inner ear injury, I found these shots, which I will never get to see in person, just breathtaking.
While Google's made progress with driverless cars, obviously they haven't constructed amphibious versions of their mapping cars just yet; to acquire the imagery they've partnered with The Catlin Seaview Survey, the collective name for a series of oceangoing scientific expeditions that send divers into the deep with underwater camera rigs.
The SVI, an earlier version of the camera
A non-Kickstarter-friendly product rendering of the SVII
The actual SVII
The Catlin organization currently uses a custom-designed camera—they own the only two versions ever produced—called the SVII, which looks something like a torpedo attached to an old-school diver's helmet.
Interestingly, the SVII is controlled wirelessly by an attendant diver using an underwater tablet. There's no word on whether it's an iPad but even if it is, given Google and Apple's recent bad blood, I doubt that fact would ever... surface.