Adrian Holovaty makes a connection:
For years now, Google has been sending Street View cars around the world, collecting rich data about streets and the things alongside them. At first, this resulted in Street View imagery. Then it was the underlying street geodata (i.e., the precise longitude/latitude paths of streets), enabling Google to ditch Tele Atlas and make its maps out of data it obtained from Street View vehicles. Now, I’m realizing the biggest Street View data coup of all: those vehicles are gathering the ultimate training set for driverless cars.
He imagines an endless loop of data-gathering:
The next question is, as Street View data improves the driverless cars, will the driverless cars get good (and legal) enough to eventually gather Street View data without humans, which will then lead to more driving experience, which will lead to smarter driverless cars, which will lead to more efficient Street View data gathering, in a vicious cycle of driving and learning?
More on Street View advancements, including airplanes and backpack methods for gathering images, here.