Jose Ignacio González Redondo, the civil engineer in charge of projects at external sites at Valoriza Conservación de Infraestructuras, is passionate about new technologies. His keenness to apply cutting-edge technological equipment in projects led him to use, for the first time ever in Spain, an aquatic drone in renovating a bridge located over the Esla River, located in the north-east of the province of Zamora (Spain). His innovative spirit and ability to optimise resources have been acknowledged by Sacyr as the company has given him one of its ‘Natural Innovators’ awards.
The bridge over the Esla River, dating between the 17th and 18th century, is protected by the Spanish national heritage board, Patrimonio Nacional. The work to repair the bridge had to be done with particular care and executed under guidelines from the Territorial Culture Service of the Regional Government of Castilla and León.
González Redondo and his team proposed using an aquatic drone equipped with a high-precision sonar device to inspect the submerged elements, analyse the damage and detect any weaknesses or flaws that were endangering the rest of the structure.
This non-invasive technique facilitated the work in accordance with the quality and environmental standards established in the group and made it possible to do the job with the greatest respect and care. The repaired bridge is part of the Ruta de la Plata tourist route the ("Silver Route"), the Roman road crossing the country moving south to north from Mérida (Badajoz) to Astorga (León).
“It was an innovative experience as it was a methodology that was being used for the first time on this type of site. It gave us high-precision data both to discover the scope of the damage in the submerged areas of the structure and to be able to optimise resources in the work to divert the course of the river for the reconstruction”, stated González Redondo.
The aquatic drone used by the head of external site projects at VCI was able to perceive the river bed, thus obtaining bathymetry data accurate to the centimetre and generating a 3D model of the submerged part of the structure, thereby making it possible to sense faults that were not visible under the water.
“We did already have an aerial drone for inspecting structures and other work, but in the work on the bridge over the Esla River it was the first time that an aquatic drone had been used in Spain and it is likely we will make use of this technology again in other projects that may come up with this type of need”, said González Redondo.
The aquatic drone has made it possible to obtain data that, if the work had been done manually, would have been impossible, “or very slow and difficult, entailing on occasion significant risks to health and safety at work”. González Redondo emphasised his firm commitment to this technology, which represents, in his opinion, the future for topography as it makes it possible to “gather data quickly, accurately and at a relatively low cost”.