Published on 05-Sep-2023

Jacobs Takes the Lead in Backing National Highways' Ambitious Structures Moonshot Project

Jacobs Takes the Lead in Backing National Highways' Ambitious Structures Moonshot Project

Sources - @jacobs

National Highways is on a mission to transform the way it monitors and maintains the UK's bridges and structures. The agency is venturing into innovative technologies and modern methods to detect potential defects in bridges and structures sooner, reducing disruption and enhancing safety and efficiency.

The Structures Moonshot project is at the heart of this endeavor, focusing on vulnerable areas within structures, such as steel tendons in post-tensioned structures and reinforcement within concrete half-joints. These elements are prone to deterioration but are challenging to access and often require intrusive investigations that disrupt traffic.

To address these challenges, National Highways has launched an open invitation for innovations and technology solutions that can detect defects earlier and in a non-disruptive way. The Atkins-Jacobs Joint Venture (JV) is leading this initiative, conducting extensive testing and research to identify advanced non-destructive testing (NDT) technologies.

The agency is open to various ideas, including the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to detect hidden structural defects. Solutions may encompass advanced sensors, imaging technologies, and machine learning algorithms.

Colin George, National Highways’ Deputy Head of Structures and Project Sponsor for Moonshot, emphasized the project's ambition: "The underlying ambition of ‘Moonshot’ is to maximize the benefits of recent and rapid advances in technology, tackling the increasing challenge of managing and maintaining the safety and use of our aging bridge stock."

Successful entrants will have the opportunity to conduct real-world testing of their innovations on sample bridge sections, offering a platform to showcase their products to National Highways and the wider industry.

James Watson, Non-Destructive Testing Consultant at Jacobs, highlighted the project's significance: "This research project is a rare opportunity to test the potential of emerging inspection technologies. By technically comparing different techniques and exploring new and upcoming approaches, the findings can transform the way National Highways manages the UK transport network’s infrastructure.

The outcomes of this project will not only optimize the effectiveness of solutions but also be shared with the construction industry to foster collaboration and shared learning.

Chris Mundell, Atkins’ Technical Director within Transportation, noted that this project could revolutionize asset management, reduce costs, improve safety, and sustainability, and prevent unplanned road and bridge closures.

National Highways' commitment to innovation and technology is set to shape the future of bridge maintenance in the UK, enhancing safety, efficiency, and sustainability.

National Highways is a government-owned company responsible for planning, improving, managing, operating, and maintaining England's strategic road network, covering over 4500 miles of motorways and major A roads.
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