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Richmond duo to capture James River using ‘Google Car’ raft

RICHMOND, Va. – Envision yourself on the river, the James River. Envision yourself on a rock in the middle of the river with water flowing by. Now turn 360 degrees in place and take in the vistas that surround you.

This summer, two Richmond-based entrepreneurs are teaming up to make their vision of the James a reality, a reality possible from any device with access to the Internet.

Ryan Abrahamsen and Andy Thompson want to allow you to travel the length of the entire James River, while witnessing the mountains and landmarks along the way—all in a single sitting.

Ryan Abrahamsen and Andy Thompson want to allow you to travel the length of the entire James River, while witnessing the mountains and landmarks along the way—all in a single sitting.

At the heart of Virginia, the James River carves a 348-mile-long path full of history, beauty, and recreation across the state. Andy Thompson and Ryan Abrahamsen want to allow you to travel the length of this watershed and witness the mountains and landmarks it passes—all in a single sitting.

Think Google Car, but in a raft version and ready to take on a multi-week float trip.

Thompson and Abrahamsen are no newcomers to incubating ideas and turning them into reality.

Thompson has been a contributor to the success of the Richmond outdoor scene for years. In the past, he wrote the outdoor column for Richmond Times-Dispatch. However, these days, he is both founder and operator of RichmondOutside.com, an online resource that covers anything and everything involving outdoor news and recreation across the Richmond region.

Abrahamsen is co-owner of Terrain360.com, an interactive website that takes viewers on a visual tour of some of the most beautiful places in and around Virginia through a 360-degree panoramic view of the terrain surrounding selected trails. Between Abrahamsen and Thompson, you can find just about any content you need to saddle up for your next adventure in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Over the past three months, the duo has been perfecting their unique project along with the help of the James River Association. And soon Thompson and Abrahamsen will float and map the entire James River watershed in a way that has never been done before.

To successfully navigate the entire length of the river, the team has fabricated an inflatable 8-by-16 pontoon raft with an aluminum-framed deck. Rising straight up and out of the middle of the vessel is a stainless steel, telescoping camera rig. Atop the mount is an array of six cameras facing in all directions, which produce 360-degree panoramic images.

They call it Photohontas, and it’s like nothing you have seen before.

Click here to continue reading on RichmondGRID.com.

This story was written by Hunter Davis and originally published in Richmond GRID magazine.  

Launched in July of 2009, Greater Richmond Grid has profiled living, working and playing in the region.

With an eye on innovation, inspiration and individuals’ accomplishments in Richmond’s business, retail, arts and entertainment, the magazine and its website RichmondGrid.com strive to profile the area’s creative vibrancy and authentic character.

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