Engineers in China are Using a Drone to Build a 4,629 Foot Bridge – and it’s “100 times” More Efficient
The 4,629-foot-long Xingkang Bridge being built in the Sichuan Province is an amazing feat of engineering. But the Chinese team building the bridge have access to a new tool, using drones to help them install the cables.
The bridge is being built in hair-raising terrain on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The 4,629 foot structure crosses the Dadu River at stunning heights – 880 feet above the fast moving water. The Xingkang bridge, which will be completed in 2018, will provide an eight-lane highway with an approximately 50 mph speed limit linking the Tibetan Plateau to the Sichuan province.
The suspension bridge will use 34,034 cables, according to engineers. Traditionally, workers used boats, helicopters, or mini rockets to string the cable from one side of the bridge to the other. But the video below shows the team’s new method. Workers use a drone to carry pilot cable, a 2 mm diameter cable weighing a little over 6 pounds, from one side to the other – and the trip takes just 3 minutes. Workers on the other side then attach a thicker cable to the end of the pilot rope and pull it over. This process is repeated, increasing the thickness of the cable, until they can pull over a heavy bridge cable.
Chief engineer Tang Zhongbo told Sichuan Daily that the drone is “100 times more efficient” than the traditional method, and saved them more than 80 percent of the cost of laying the cable.
Miriam McNabb is the CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. She writes for DRONELIFE on current news, financial trends, and FAA regulations. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.