This origami-inspired emergency bridge accordions into shape

Hiroshima University

Eat your heart out, GI Joe Bridge Layer. A team from the Graduate School of Engineering in Hiroshima University has developed a temporary and portable bridge design that unfolds itself like an accordion across damaged or missing spans. It's being touted as the "fastest, largest, strongest and lightest" expanding bridge on Earth.

It's called the Mobile Bridge Version 4.0 (MB4.0). Measuring nearly 70 feet in length, the MB4.0 is light enough to be transported via trailer, yet takes barely an hour to fully deploy. In a pinch, the bridge can be unfurled in as little as five minutes, thanks to a scissoring, modular design that extends the lanes in tandem with the outer superstructure. That scissoring action is intentional and is actually based on an origami technique that minimizes buckling. The system doesn't even need existing foundations to operate, which makes it ideal for disaster response operations.

The team debuted the MB4.0 at the Japan Society of Civil Engineers back on June 23rd and hope to continue developing the technology. There's no word on when the portable bridge will be available for actual emergency situations.