Digital twin of the entire city of Shanghai

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Digital Twin Overview

With over 26 million residents, Shanghai has the highest population of any city in China, and is the third most populous in the world. And Beijing-based digital twin specialists 51World have succeeded in creating a complete virtual clone of the city in Unreal Engine—all 3,750 square kilometers of it. As recently reported on The B1M, 51World individually modeled over 20 landmark structures including the Oriental Pearl and Shanghai Tower, and used data from satellites, drones, and sensors to generate digital versions of countless other buildings, roads, waterways, and green spaces using an algorithm. Ultimately, the plan is to turn this model into a true digital twin that will be continuously updated in near real time.

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Opportunities & Challenges

It’s natural that digital twins in the hands of a private company or national government raise concerns about rights, ethics, and privacy. But what is actually captured is just trends. All the data is anonymized; facts about specific individuals and their movements are not tracked.

Summary of existing material

To optimize the photorealistic real-time rendering of the Shanghai model in Unreal Engine, the entire simulation is divided into two-square-kilometer segments, which are loaded and unloaded according to the camera view—a trick often used in video games. Closer objects appear in finer detail, showing accurate environmental reflections, soft shadows on surfaces, and lifelike shading effects in accordance with the weather. The team used Unreal Engine’s Sun and Sky model to simulate natural daylight. 

To lean more 51World creates digital twin of the entire city of Shanghai – Unreal Engine