The donkey lives! Apparently, Google did not kill a donkey with its Street View car in Botswana, after all. Donkeycide would totally go against Google’s whole “do no evil” credo, the company said. Okay, just kidding. But Google did take the time out of its busy schedule to respond to the accusations of donkey hit-and-run on the official Google Maps blog this morning, in a post hilariously titled “Never ass-ume.”
Ass-ume. Get it? Get it?!
Seriously though, if you haven’t been following this story – and, well, good for you for having a life – it started when some Caltech theoretical physicist styling himself as “the real Sheldon Cooper” on Twitter (@TheRealSheldonCooper) tweeted a link to a Google Street View image showing what appears to be a dead donkey lying in the dirt road, presumably behind the Street View car.
Why a physicist was spending his time browsing Botswana’s Street View remains a mystery. Maybe he had outsourced his job to China and was looking to kill some time surfing the Internet?
In any event, it was one of those little observations people make on Twitter all the time, but for whatever reason, the image went viral. Fox News even picked it up, because, well you know, they like to cover the news that matters.
Um, as do we.
(Dismounts from high horse).
Google, at least, cares enough about its reputation to respond to these outrageous claims of donkey murder. Reads the company blog post on the matter:
Over the last 24-hours concerned members of the public and the media have been speculating on the fate of a donkey pictured in Street View in the Kweneng region of Botswana.
Because of the way our 360-degree imagery is put together, it looked to some that our car had been involved in an unseemly hit and run, leaving the humble beast stranded in the road.
As our imagery below shows, the donkey was lying in the path - perhaps enjoying a dust bath - before moving safely aside as our car drove past. I’m pleased to confirm the donkey is alive and well.
Google’s post shows that in images 1 and 2, the car was driving on the left side of the road and approached the donkey, which was lying down, taking a breather.
In image 3, the donkey gets up and moves aside.
Image 4, taken from the back of the vehicle also shows the animal on its feet.
Unless…of course, well….this could all be just some sort of massive coverup to hide the fact that Google is testing its self-driving cars out in the wilds of Africa, and it has discovered a bug in the system: robots don’t brake for wildlife. I don’t know, that could happen, right? Did anyone check the photos for evidence of Photoshopping?