On-Site Magazine

Satellite GPS technology to determine infrastructure stability

By On-Site Magazine   

Bridges Construction Construction Materials Infrastructure P3s bridge China Railway Group construction gps infrastructure research and development technology University of Nottingham

China Railway Group teams with U of Nottingham on research project

The UK’s University of Nottingham has teamed up with the huge construction conglomerate, China Railway Group, to develop and commercialize advanced satellite techniques to monitor the structural integrity of bridges and other infrastructure, according to a report from the Global Construction Review.

The agreement triggers a direct investment of $950,000 from China Railway Group to support the project, which earlier last year received $3.7 million from the European Space Agency.

The UK-China collaboration is expected to lead to a new high-tech company targeting the global market for satellite-based monitoring of large infrastructure, thought to be worth $20.7 billion, the university said.

The single biggest market is China itself, which has built a large number of road and rail bridges during its rapid infrastructure build-out in the last 30 years.


The project, known as GeoSHM, uses advanced satellite navigation and positioning technology to track how environmental and other factors affect bridge stability over time. GPS-like sensors are placed at strategic locations on bridges, highways and tunnels for example, and any changes are then tracked.

Included in the agreement are Nottingham University’s Sino-UK Geospatial Engineering Centre and a research unit of China Railway Group, the Major Bridge Reconnaissance and Design Institute (BRDI). Under the deal, the technology will be promoted in China.

BRDI president Tian Daoming said the collaboration would help improve how bridges are built. “China has a long history of bridge construction which dates back thousands of years and we have built a great number of novel, large and complex structured bridges in the past few decades,” he said.

“Collaborating with the University of Nottingham using geospatial technology will help with the great rejuvenation of the Chinese Bridge construction.”

Dr. Xiaolin Meng, Director of the Sino-UK Geospatial Engineering Centre, said the collaboration would help develop “smart transport management solutions” in the UK. “The wide-reaching range of geospatial data that we are able to provide through our research work also has massive potential in helping to develop smart transport management solutions within the big cities in the UK and China.”

Stakeholders on the development of the project so far include bridges in the UK like Humber Bridge as well as the Yangtze River Bridge in China.

It makes a lot of sense for the China Railway Group to be investing in the technology, writes Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan from Gizmodo.

“As one of the largest infrastructure companies in the country, it’s building huge amounts of infrastructure all over the world, from a 290-mile-long railroad in Venezuela to billion-dollar development projects in Zimbabwe.”



Stories continue below