Mini Google Street View Camera, World’s Largest Model Railway

Watch the tech giant’s latest capture the incredible in 1:87 scale.

byAndrew Bornhop|
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A confession: When I used to look at my house using Google Street View, I’d laugh. The Google Maps car, the one with the special 360-degree camera, had driven by the day I had placed my ragged denim couch out at the curb, hoping for somebody to take it away. Even though my kids weren’t caught by the camera sitting on our new outdoor couch (as they had done for much of the day), it still looked like Hillbilly Central, right in the heart of Orange County. Now, Google’s Street View cameras have been put to a new use that elicits pure awe, without fear of embarrassment.

Google, working with German map specialist Ubilabs, has developed a miniature camera that beautifully captures the mind-blowing detail and wonder of Miniatur Wunderland, the world’s largest miniature railway. The Hamburg tourist attraction has an incredible 900 model trains operating, as well as 12,000 total cars.

Axel Heimken/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

As for the tiny Google cameras, they’re mounted in a specially modified 1:87 scale model train and bus that travel through this whimsical attraction, which boasts more than eight miles of tracks in its seven sections. On the tour, you’ll go through Scandinavia and the fictional town of Knuffingen, stop by a fully functional Hamburg Airport (replete with “flying” jetliners), and soak up the scenic Swiss Alps before visiting the U. S., where Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Mt. Rushmore are the main attractions.

Axel Heimken/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Other “lands” such as England, France and Italy are in the works, too. But the idea we like best comes from Gerrit Braun, a key figure at Miniatur Winderland. He says he’d like to build a working replica of the Monaco Grand Prix street circuit. Perhaps he’ll choose 1955, the year Alberto Ascari overshot the chicane and flipped his Lancia into the harbor.

Now that’s a recreation I’d watch on Google Street View, anytime.