Julio Tang often gets mistaken for an ice cream vendor when he rides the Google Street View tricycle with its bulky white box on the back.
"That happens all the time," says Tang. "They think that you're an ice cream truck and then they get closer and realize it's a Google trike."
But there's no disappointment at the revelation, says Tang. Instead people "actually get more excited" and begin waving in hopes of being captured for posterity on the company's famous panoramic map views.
After photographing cities around the world with its fleet of camera-mounted cars, Google is now deploying the tricycles to tackle locations otherwise inaccessible.
"Basically this gets us off the roads and onto trails, university campuses, hopefully theme parks, places like that, that let people experience and really get inside those places on Google Maps," says Mike Pegg, a senior product marketing manager with Google.
Bunning wishes that the trike could capture more than just landmarks, but also a bit of the heart of Toronto.
"I'd like to see an event covered … just to show how alive the city is in the summertime," says Bunning.
Navigating off public roads with Google's 360-degree cameras not only comes with increased legal and privacy challenges for the company, but also physical obstacles for its riders.
Pushing the 180-kilogram trike and equipment uphill is the biggest one. But Tang and Chang quickly figured out a low-tech strategy, one that also ensures they don't end up in the shots and compromise Google's imagery.
When the duo approach an upcoming hill, one of them runs ahead, hides in a spot the Google cameras can't view, then dashes out to push the trike at the key moment when the rider hits the incline.
"I have to try to not to be in the shot," says Chang. "I have to duck down and then run and then just push it up, while ducking down just so the camera doesn't catch me."
Inevitably, though, the two end up in a smattering of Google shots — and in that regard, he can empathize with the passersby eager to jump into the Google camera's line of sight.
"It's pretty cool that you're on something that thousands of people are going to be looking at," he says.