According to F.A.T, Free Art and Technology Lab based out of Germany, they have pranked a Google Street View car by installing a GPS tracking device to it while it was parked outside Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, Germany. They claim that they were able to somehow attach a tracking device or a GPS cell phone to the car and then receive updates every 2 minutes about the location of the vehicle. They even made a map of the whole think, posting it on their website.
According to some reports, there were even people who used the information displayed on the website to track down the car and perform obscene gestures, shout profanity, or display their private parts in the general direction of the vehicle.
This story has received insane amounts of media attention on the internet and has even gotten a mention of a few TV channels as well, including G4TV:
If one looks carefully at the evidence that is presented on the F.A.T website I think that you will can come to the conclusion that they did not actually track a Google Street View Car with GPS, but instead they merely made a fake one and drove it around like it was from Google and filmed funny and obscene episodes to shame the Internet Giant.
My entire case rests entirely on the their most recent post about how to build a fake Google Street View car. In it, they display the following two pictures (the one on the left is a photo of an actual Google Street View car and the one on the right is of their fake car):
|Original Google Street View Car
|Fake Google Street View Car
Let me point out some of the major differences between these two cars – it will become very important later. The first difference is the size of the magnet on the side of the door. The real car has a small magnet while the fake one has a large magnet that takes up most of the door.
The second, and probably more important difference between the two is the camera and GPS tracking apparatus on the top of the car. I have highlighted some of the differences in the pictures below:
|Top of Original Google Street View Car
|Top of Fake Google Street View Car
Hopefully my skillfully crafted circles and arrows highlight the points of difference enough that I won’t have to spend too much time showing how these are different.
Now here is some footage of the people at F.A.T pranking what they claim to be a Google Street View car. This one is supposedly of a driver drinking while driving:
This is supposedly of a driver picking someone up who is urinating in public:
As you can see in these videos, the car is obviously the fake one created by F.A.T. If the sign on the side of the car is not enough evidence then perhaps taking a closer look at the GPS tracking and camera apparatus located on the top will reveal that it is in fact the fake tracker created by the F.A.T group.
Add to this the information found in this post, Pantless Germans Flash Google Street View Car, and I am led strongly to believe that the whole claim of GPS tracking one of these cars was completely false. I did not include this video because it does have some profanity that could be objectionable to some people, but in the post they say this:
Hot off the press. See also Gizmodo, BuzzFeed, CrunchGear, Reddit, BasicThinking, BoingBoing. Stay tuned for more Google Street View car tracking at fffff.at.
That last sentence seems to indicate to me that they are representing this as video taken from the GPS tracking of the car, when it is obviously not. The video is clearly of the fake car that F.A.T created.
Thus, I think it can be clearly seen that their claim is false and that the claim itself is the actual prank. The videos are made in an attempt to ‘eff Google’ and make them look bad.
If you are interested in learning some more about this group, there is a little blurb from their about page:
The Free Art and Technology Lab is an organization dedicated to enriching the public domain through the research and development of creative technologies and media. The entire FAT network of artists, engineers, scientists, lawyers, musicians and Bornas are committed to supporting open values and the public domain through the use of emerging open licenses, support for open entrepreneurship and the admonishment of secrecy, copyright monopolies and patents.
So in the final analysis it seems like F.A.T. just wanted to make Google look bad and advanced their false claim of GPS tracking a Street View Car in an attempt to bring attention to their cause. I certainly don’t blame them for their attempt, but it is important that we all see what they actually accomplished.
Feel free to check the sources yourself at: Free Art and Technology