A bridge in London is being mapped onto a ‘digital twin’ fed with real-time data from an array of sensors to help engineers monitor its condition and head off problems. The SmartBridge project is a research collaboration between Brunel University London, research and technology business TWI and the construction company James Fisher. They hope to develop predictive and risk-based tools for asset managers that could extend the life of bridges and other structures by decades.
The physical bridge in Watford carries London Underground’s Metropolitan line over the A4145 to Rickmansworth, and is being embedded with sensors to monitor safety, wear and tear. This data is fed via the cloud into algorithms that analyse the bridge’s structure and condition and map it in real time onto an exact virtual model, or digital twin. “A working digital twin of a structure such as this is cutting-edge,” said Dr Miltiadis Kourmpetis at Brunel Innovation Centre. “The technology is still relatively new.”
The smart bridge will also help engineers head off potential problems before they strike by predicting how the real bridge will react to different weather conditions, amounts of traffic, ground vibrations and even if it’s hit in a collision.