Origami-inspired bridge aids access in disaster zones

An origami-inspired mobile bridge designed to be rapidly constructed to assist the transport of aid to disaster zones has passed its initial viability tests.

The Mobile Bridge Version 4.0 (MB4.0), which has been designed and built by Ichiro Ario of Hiroshima University, utilises its scissor-like “X” shape to retain strength while being quickly deployed in areas where existing bridges and access points have been damaged in natural disasters. The scissor design was inspired by academic research into structures buckling that stems from the Japanese traditional paper craft of origami. 

The 20.8m bridge was recently tested to assess its viability for practical use and after it was set up for the test without any foundation work, a vehicle was able to pass over it. The results of the study were presented at a symposium of the Japan Society of Civil Engineers.

Ario said: “From this test of a new bridge concept, the next generation of bridge technology starts on a new stage in the field of bridge engineering. It is possible to use a real deployable and smart bridge with a scissor-type bridge system using this structural theory. I will further promote the development and evolution of MB4.0 in the future. Making MB stronger, longer, lighter, more compact, and quicker to set up will promote the development of infrastructure construction technology in general.”

The MB4.0 can be fully assembled in around one hour – but the actual bridge extension period takes just five minutes. It is also designed to be transported via a car trailer and has been produced to have a low level of complexity while retaining a high degree of resilience. The MB4.0 also reduces costs as it does not need any foundation construction or cranes to install the crossing.

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