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Novel scissor-like bridge could be used during emergencies

22 July 2015

Japanese researchers have successfully tested a novel bridge structure requiring no foundation preparations, and which can be deployed quickly by just a few people.

The Mobile Bridge Version 4.0 during tests following deployment (photo courtesy of Hiroshima University)

The Mobile Bridge Version 4.0 (MB4.0) is the brainchild of Dr Ichiro Ario, an assistant professor at the Institute of Engineering, Hiroshima University, Japan. Dr Ario presented the latest test results at a symposium of the Japan Society of Civil Engineers (JSCE) last month.

MB4.0 is a new type of foldable bridge with a scissor-like mechanism that can be deployed quickly, to provide emergency access in the aftermath of a natural disaster, when rapid repair of infrastructure is required.

MB4.0's main structural members form an 'X' shape, which enables expansion and contraction while retaining strength. The idea came from academic studies on buckling based on the Japanese craft of Origami, which has attracted the attention of researchers in space development and other fields.

Dr Ario developed MB4.0 as a type of robotic bridge by improving its mobility and functionality and decreasing its weight. It is thus more easily transported and easier to set up at temporary construction sites without any foundation construction or crane operations.

From the arrival of MB4.0 on site to its full extension takes around one hour. The bridge is ready for traffic as soon as it is fully expanded. Dr Ario says the actual extension time is only around five minutes - particularly important for time-sensitive situations during a disaster.

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