More than a million people visit the quirky, high-tech Minatur Wunderland — the world’s largest, tiniest-scale model railway exhibit — in Hamburg, Germany each year, but now you can do it from the comfort of your own computer.
Google Maps has added Street View to the intricate exhibit, which features 8 miles of railway tracks and follow 900 trains each day. While model trains may not typically be your thing, stay with us. You’re about to geek out.
The trains move about modeled countries like Switzerland, Germany and the U.S., as well as Las Vegas and Mt. Rushmore, with an incredible attention to detail. More than 200,000 figurines come to life within the exhibit, along with computer-controlled vehicles such as fire trucks that put out fires and traffic cops who pull over speeding cars.
It’s like watching a movie before your eyes, but one you can control: Visitors can push to simulate certain actions, which are monitored in real-time by staffers in a control room along with 40 computers. The exhibit took more than 500,000 working hours to create and spans 4,000 sq. ft. Check out the video below to see the exhibit in action.
You can take a stroll through tiny replicas of small towns, provinces and even a functional airport, one of the exhibit’s latest additions that cost six years to make and $3.5 million Euro (US$3.78 million) to create. With a high-tech airplane hangers, terminals and computerized workers, Miniuatur Wunderland calls it the world’s most-advanced airport simulation.
Google said to capture the smallest nooks and crannies of the exhibit, it worked with Ubilabs to build a scaled-down version of how it typically captures Street View (cameras attached to its Street View car fleet).
“Tiny cameras were mounted on tiny vehicles that were able to drive the roads and over the train tracks, weaving through the Wunderland’s little worlds to capture their hidden treasures,” Google said in a blog post.
A day in the model world spans about 15 minutes, after which the lights turn off and LEDs flip on at venues like night clubs and casinos.
While you can’t necessarily see what it’s like to have the world come to life via Google Maps, the Street View version gives you an up-close look at the tiniest details of the exhibit. Plus, it saves you a plane ticket to Hamburg.