No, That's Not The Ice Cream Man. It's The Google Trike Taking Street View Off-Road.

Google has been making Maps and Earth a bit more social these days, letting users create 3D buildings and using crowdsourcing to help update changes in terrain and on roads. Now Google Street View is hoping to engage users by letting them suggest spots where the “Trike” should venture.

Google Street View’s Trike is what Google uses when it can’t drive a car through the area its visually mapping. Some Google employee actually rides this contraption to make sure Street View has visuals on hard-to-reach spots around the world. At Google’s Trike homepage, you can suggest spots where the Trike should go within six categories: parks and trails, university campuses, pedestrian malls (e.g., outdoor shopping areas, boardwalks), theme parks and zoos, and landmarks and sports venues.

Google is letting users submit their votes over the next few weeks, and will choose a winner for each category for the Street View trike to visit. It’s certainly an interesting way to engage users with Street View, considering how popular the car sightings are. When Google opened up nominations in the U.K., Street View received more than 10,000 suggestions.

Personally, I think this is representative of Google wanting to have the best mapping data available, whether it be on Maps, Earth or Street View, and is now engaging U.S. users to help them get this. Google knows the power of crowdsourcing and using its loyal user base to help them improve and iterate their products.

Photo credit:Flickr/Current Events