Google Street View cars have learned to fix methane leaks

As gas pipelines age and deteriorate in cities, the problem of gas leaks arises, which can lead to serious environmental problems. At the initiative of the Environmental Protection Fund, Google Earth Outreach and a group of scientists from the University of Colorado, to monitor US city streets, they began using Google Street View vehicles equipped with equipment that respond to methane leaks.

If large gas leaks are fixed and eliminated rather quickly, then small ones can go unnoticed for many months, or even years. It has already been established that excess methane in the atmosphere contributes to climate change.

An infrared gas laser analyzer, which reacts to methane, was installed on the Google cars. Using a suite of algorithms developed by scientists at the University of Colorado, this instrument can accurately measure the methane plume emanating from a damaged gas pipeline, and not be confused with methane from landfills and nearby power plants.

New technology has already identified natural gas leaks in Boston, Staten Island and Syracuse. The results of the research were used by a utility company in New Jersey to modernize the city's gas pipeline. Next in line are four proposals for the use of Google Street View cars in other US cities.