US Lifts Satellite Imaging Restrictions, Clears the Path for Razor-Sharp Maps
The US government has lifted restrictions on satellite imagery and detail, potentially paving the way for higher-quality imagery used in services including Google Maps and Bing.
As reported by the BBC, the ruling means satellite imagery can now capture images where features as small as 50cm are allowed to be used commercially. Previously, it was illegal for businesses to capture and use images below this threshold — as objects smaller than 50cm were required to be pixelated if viewed at all.
The decision paves the way for companies such as Google and Microsoft to make use of higher-quality images through satellites, which is cheaper than using low-flying aircraft to capture such detail. If utilized, this could improve the quality of services such as Google Maps, but it also could cause concern for those worried about their privacy.
One company, Digital Globe, told the publication that it would be able to sell images showing features as small as 31cm, and the firm plans to launch new satellites to take advantage of the change in legislation. The US Department of Commerce lifted the restrictions thanks to the company, which applied to have the law changed.