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Tang Qiying has been asked by his friends from time to time if he is on a gap year and scored a lottery jackpot, as the nonstop appearance of beautiful photos from all over China on his WeChat Moments could not have been posted without a lot of time and money.
The 22-year-old "traveler" has consistently remained in first place in the WeChat popularity rankings. He has traveled more than 35,000 kilometers and visited six provinces during the past year.
It turns out he is getting paid for his wanderlust ways.
Tang has been working as a mapping data collector at Baidu since 2016. "Because of this job, I have been able to experience the most beautiful scenery while I"m still young," he said.
Yu Cheng, brand ambassador of Baidu Map"s data collection division, said the job requires collectors to gather detailed road network data, such as the location of ditches and overpasses, with collectors spending most of their time on roads and in the mountains as well as by the seashore.
The role of a chief map data collector offers an annual salary of 1 million yuan ($155,000), she said.
Collectors are provided with a sport utility vehicle and a camera-equipped aerial drone to carry out their job, in addition to high-tech equipment for information collection and professional photographic equipment.
"We work in a certain place for a period and after completion we will move on to the next place," Tang said. "To collect accurate information on each road we cover, we often travel four or five times on the same road, and a 200-km road you see on the map requires us to travel over 400 km or more. many times"
Once he was collecting information of a section about an expressway in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, which was not yet officially open to traffic.
He walked for 10 km carrying equipment weighing over 20 kilograms, and uploaded the data the moment he got back to his hotel to ensure users could find the road on the map and use it to navigate on the opening day.
"We do not have holidays, but one bonus is we don"t have to work on rainy days. Also, we usually don"t have to rent an apartment because spending all year outside of an office is no big deal for us," he said, adding that he usually stays in hotels.
Li Dongmin, general manager of Baidu Map, said a growing number of projects are using map data. For example, the autopilot technology that various high-tech companies are competing to develop cannot be separated from the support of map data, which makes the map collector"s career development promising.
"But the job can be lonely. One time, in a sparsely populated desert area in Qinghai province, I felt really lonely, as there was no one around. I kept driving until I saw a few antelopes, who I viewed as my friends. There"s always a price to pay for getting what you want," Tang said.