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BridgeCat wins top industry award

BridgeCat in operation on River Eden at Temple Sowerby.

An innovative new system that is being developed to change how Cumbria County Council assesses and inspects bridges has secured a prestigious award.

BridgeCat won the Judge’s Supreme Award at the New Civil Engineer Tech Fest 2018, which recognises the work of Britain’s most innovative teams and civil engineering companies.

BridgeCat is a mobile bridge inspection system that uses an underwater camera, sonar and sensors to more effectively and efficiently gather detailed information about a bridge’s condition and to assess damage caused by floods.

BridgeCat is a joint project between Cumbria County Council, Department for Transport and Gaist Solutions.

The project was launched following the devastating winter storms of 2015/6 when hundreds of bridges in Cumbria were affected. Traditionally, divers are sent to assess damage once floodwaters have receded, but they can only visit a small number each day.

Cllr Keith Little, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: “This award is highly coveted within the industry and is thoroughly deserved. We received a half a million pound grant from the Department of Transport to develop this fantastic piece of kit with Gaist. BridgeCat will enable us to quickly assess the condition of our bridges, detect any damage to the foundations and where possible reopen bridges sooner than we would otherwise have been able to in the past. It’s also much safer as we won’t necessarily need to send divers down into the water.”

Pictured at the New Civil Engineer Tech Fest 2018 Awards, from left to right, are: Andy Neely, pro-vice-chancellor for enterprise and business relations, University of Cambridge; Jenny Roberts, head of engineering, Gaist Solutions; and Mark Hansford, Editor, New Civil Engineer. Picture credit: NCE TechFest 2018

Jenny Roberts, Head of Engineering at Gaist, said: “We’re thrilled to win such a prestigious award for this project. BridgeCat is a mobile bridge inspection system that we can drive on to a bridge, put a sonar in the water and get some really good underwater images of the bridge foundations. The detailed data gathered by BridgeCat will enable local authorities to more effectively plan and prioritise works.”

The Judge’s Supreme Award recognises the individual, company, research or project team that is doing most to ‘drive the industry forward through technology adoption’.

The award judges commended the way that BridgeCat “is solving an economic and social problem….This is a gamechanger for today – not tomorrow.”

They also praised the project team for being “open to sharing their innovation across the industry” and for the practical application of the technology in many different sectors.

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