Wool you look at that: Sheep-powered Google Street View now live

Having a population of 50,000 people, unfortunately, doesn’t always make the Faroe Islands a top priority for many companies — like Google Street View. But after launching Sheep View 360, a cleverly titled project that strapped 360-degree cameras onto the backs of sheep, the residents of the Faroe Islands captured Google’s attention. A year later, the Faroe Islands are now available to explore through Google Street View.

There are roughly 70,000 sheep in the Faroe Islands — what better way to map out the archipelago, whose name means “the islands of sheep?” The campaign was put together by the Faroese Tourist Board, which used the hashtag “#wewantGoogleStreetView” to attract the search giant. The initial video received more than 479,000 views and brought Google arrived with more 360 cameras to mount on cars, hikers, horseback riders, kayakers and even a wheelbarrow.

“When we herd about the Sheep View project, we thought it was shear brilliance,” writes a punny David Castro González de Vega from Google Maps. “So we decided to help the Faroese by supplying them with a Street View Trekker and 360-degree cameras via our Street View camera loan program.”

The team arrived last summer to train and equip the community, Google said. But what’s really neat is that Google is leaving a few Street View 360 cameras at the tourist office in Tórshavn and Atlantic Airways at the airport, in case tourists want to assist the country in lending “a hoof.”

The Faroese team’s initial setup with sheep wasn’t as easy as it sounds — the small 360-degree camera they used only had a two-hour battery life. Of course the sheep, unlike a car, couldn’t keep it charged. The team had to rig portable solar panels, that also doubled as a harness. It powered the camera and an iPhone, which the sheep carried. About one image every minute is transmitted wirelessly to the Sheep View headquarters, where the team uploads the photos to Google Maps.

Thankfully, Google’s arrival made the process a lot less arduous. Though that didn’t mean Sheep View 360 is shuttering its doors — no, the team is still continuing its work and Google’s support will be supplementary to the overarching goal of mapping the Faroe Islands.

“We’re so thrilled that we succeeded in getting Google Street View to come to the Faroe Islands by creating our own Sheep View. We are also proud that we managed to spread the word about the Faroe Islands — a place many had previously not heard of — to people all around the world. As a result, tourism numbers have increased and visitors can now use Google Street View to get beautiful panoramic views of the Faroe Islands,” said Guorio Hojgaard, Director of Visit Faroe Islands.

The results of the Street View project, which mixes car-mounted cameras with sheep-mounted ones, is now available for exploring the Faroe Islands on Google Maps.

Google says if there’s a place that hasn’t gotten the Street View treatment, you can grab your own 360 camera and upload the images to Google Maps, or borrow one from Google’s Street View camera loan program.

Update: Google shares “Sheep View” images.