AGH UST students have created a mobile footbridge for pedestrians

Michał Pyza and Piotr Roszkowski, photo from private archive of Special Interest Group of Construction Mechanics “Aksjator”

Model of mobile footbridge for pedestrians, photo archives of Special Interest Group “Aksjator”

AGH UST students have created a unique rolling footbridge for pedestrians. It is the first project of this type that has been completed in Poland, and it interlinks with a new trend in architecture and civil engineering whose idea is to incorporate movement into structure. 

The model that has been developed by AGH UST students is a result of looking for innovative solutions in civil engineering. The structure of 3.35 metres in length and 50 cm in width is powered by 14 electric actuators. The steel footbridge has seven degrees of freedom, which on the one hand constitutes a major constructional difficulty, but on the other hand opens up various possibilities of shaping, for example, the way of assembling the footbridge. In this case, there are 127 possibilities. What is important, the footbridge is functional from the constructional point of view. The performed tests have shown that the footbridge is secure up to the weight of 200 kilograms, i.e. approximately for two adults. 

An inspiration for the students has been the Rolling Bridge in London. However, the AGH UST model is assembled in a completely different way compared to the London bridge. The students have applied their own, independent solutions that were a result of many-month analyses and tests, developed a detailed engineering design for a company producing steel structures, and they also supervised the production process of all parts. In the project, for example, the axial symmetry of bolts was of special importance, and particular parts had to be produced with the precision of up to 1 mm. 

The creators of the footbridge are Michał Pyza, BSc, and Piotr Roszkowski, BSC, of the Special Interest Group of Construction Mechanics “Aksjator” at the Faculty of Mining and Geoengineering. The electronics was designed by Tomasz Tatara of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics. The supervisors of the Special Interest Group are Henryk Ciurej, DSc, and Michał Betlej, MSc. 

“We were looking for a non-standard project at the borderline of mechanism and construction. These areas are a real challenge for civil engineering. As long as civil engineering is a very conservative branch of industry, incorporating mechanisms, i.e. mobile parts, into building and construction, gives these engineering fields a completely new architectural, aesthetic and functional dimension. It is a new current emerging in architecture and the shaping of civil engineering that aims at incorporating movement into structure. Regular drawbridges have one degree of freedom, that is only one pivot joint. There is a large number of similar solutions, e.g. over watercourses. This footbridge is very sophisticated from the mechanical perspective. What is more, in terms of the design conditions that need to be fulfilled, they are related to construction – they are all connected with safety, as the footbridge will be used by people, and mechanics – related to power supply and electronics,” explains Henryk Ciurej, DSc. 

The project was accomplished thanks to the support of MP Mosty, the company which financed the project. 

Mobile structures are widely present in military concepts (for example, mobile hospitals and bridges), and currently this trend is observed to be permeating down to civil engineering. The footbridge in its current shape and form is ready for production, and it can be used, for example, in botanical gardens, or presented at technology fairs.