The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Smart Bridge

Photo Essay

1 min read

The Olympic flame is expected to cross the new 2.25-kilometer Rion-Antirion Bridge on its way to the opening of the Athens games next month. Designed to withstand the pounding of an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 7.0, the bridge has pylons that sink 65 meters into the seabed between the Peloponnesus region and western Greece. Besides being big and tough, Rion-Antirion is quite intelligent, with about 300 sensors spread "almost everywhere" in the structure, says Gilles Hovhanessian, general manager of Advitam SA, Vélizy Cedex, France, the structural monitoring division of one of the builders.

These sensors include strain gauges on gussets to keep track of framework fatigue, displacement transducers in the stay cables that monitor how the bridge blows in the wind, and three-dimensional accelerometers in the bridge roadway to measure the impact of earthquakes. The sensors got an unexpected test when a small quake struck on the day the last stretch of the bridge was installed.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions
This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

Keep Reading ↓Show less