Google Street View Car Crashes Following High-Speed Chase

Google Street View car high speed chase
Image courtesy of Middletown Police Department

A Google Street View vehicle crashed in Indiana earlier this week following a high-speed police chase.

SFGate reports that the man driving the Google Street View car got into a high-speed chase with local police in Middletown, Indiana before going through a person’s yard and crashing into a creek.

According to the Middletown Police Department, the incident occurred on July 31, 2023, at around 5 p.m. local time.

“Chief Landon J. Dean observed a small vehicle passing several other vehicles as it traveled westbound on US 36 in front of Shenandoah High School. Chief Dean was able to determine the speed of the small vehicle at over 100 miles per hour,” the department writes on Facebook.

Chief Dean identified the speeding vehicle as a “Google Mapping” car with several 360-degree cameras mounted on its roof and a tall communications antennae attached.

The officer pursued the vehicle. During the chase, the vehicle reportedly maintained speeds exceeding 100 mph and passed multiple vehicles, although the car slowed down at an intersection before running the red light.

When approaching a closed bridge, the Google vehicle attempted to make a sharp turn, lost control, drove through a person’s yard, and crashed into a creek, where it became stuck.

The driver, who has been identified by police using his Florida driver’s license, was taken into custody. The Middletown Police Department reports that the driver stated he “worked for Google and was scared to stop.”

The driver was transported to a nearby hospital, given medical clearance, and released back into custody. “He was arrested for Resisting Law Enforcement with a vehicle, a Level 6 Felony,” police say.

As always, while the driver has been charged, he remains innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. He faces up to two and a half years in prison if convicted of charges.

A Google spokesperson tells SFGate that it uses contractors to collect imagery for Street View. In a statement sent to SFGate, Google says, “We take the safety of our Street View operations very seriously and we’re committed to working with the contracted company and local authorities to ensure the proper actions are taken to address this situation.”

Although it is unlikely that any images captured by the speeding vehicle will ever be seen by the public, it would be interesting to know if the cameras work at felonious speeds.

In a Reddit AMA from 11 years ago, someone who was then contracted by a third-party to collect Google Street View data said that while all legal speed limits are observed at all times, they believed that the cameras would work at 75 mph, which is among the fastest legal speed limits in the United States. That said, the technology used by Google Street View cars has surely improved in the past decade, although engineers are unlikely to focus on making the cameras work well at illegal speeds.