A Googler took delivery of a near-silent mini-drone from a German company, which says it hopes to sell a fleet of the spy planes for taking Google Maps photos. Hopefully without using the optional thermal camera that sees through walls.

The CEO of Germany's Microdrones GmbH told Germany's Economy Week ("Wirtschaftswoche") that his company sent one of its models to Google HQ in Mountain View, California, and "we have a good chance of getting into lasting business with Google... the [drones] are well suited to provide more timely recording of [Google's] map service." Economy Week quoted "appalled" privacy activists, who said the drones operate in near silence (judge for yourself in the YouTube demo above) and can optionally be equipped with night-vision and thermal imaging cameras, making them even more invasive than Google Street View, in which photos are taken by van.

But, hey, if you don't want your location, your car's location of your home's thermal profile updated in real time by a Google robotic air army, maybe you shouldn't be doing shameful things in the first place.

Update: Civilian drones are tightly restricted by law but "ready to take off," according to this 2009 Popular Mechanics article emailed in by blogger Robert Scoble.

Update: Google gave a statement to writer and consultant Jeff Jarvis disclaiming the drone:

"Google is not testing or using this technology. This was a purchase by a Google executive with an interest in robotics for personal use"

We've updated this post; the headline and lede originally had Google itself taking the test drone.

[via Google Blogoscoped]