Jan van der Tempel has been nominated for the prize from the European Patent Office
Translated by Thomas Ansell
An inventor from Friesland has been nominated for a prestigious prize from the EU’s European Patent Office for his work creating a transportable, safe, and stable bridge that can be used in the middle of the sea. There are now 65 of these bridges in use worldwide, but the idea came from Jan van der Tempel, who is from Warten- in between Leeuwarden and Drachten. As reported by the Omrop Fryslân.
In simple terms, the bridge uses a series of sensors to keep it level in all sorts of conditions, and is a finalist in the ‘Industry’ category. The winner will be announced on June 17.
Van der Tempel came up with the idea following a conference he attended on wind energy in Berlin, in 2002. At the time, he was completing a PhD in the design of offshore wind turbines, and one of the conference topics was how people could get onto the turbines for maintenance. “Later, whilst drinking a beer on a terrace, a colleague and I begun working out what has now become the ‘Ampelmann’ bridge”, says Van der Tempel.
In 2005, the first scale models were ready, and in 2007 the first full-size prototype was built. Van der Tempel and the colleague from the pub terrace founded a company in 2008 to produce the ‘Ampelmann’. The bridge looks like a spider, with six blue feet, says Van der Tempel. These feet and supports can move independently, and are attached to a ship. This means that whilst the ship bobs up and down, the bridge stays level.
Van der Tempel’s bridge has also been nominated for the public prize- which can be voted on here!