A factory in Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, Japan is developing a temporary bridge made of inflatable tubes that can be deployed quickly in the event of disasters. The device is expected to be used to evacuate people stranded in areas that are cut off when bridges collapse or wash away.

In a demonstration, a 42.6-foot-long, 6.5-foot-diameter prototype was inflated with air, taking about 30 minutes, and positioned on support stands above a large blue sheet that represented a river. Although the bridge cannot be used for vehicles or some large equipment, a stretcher carrying a simulated victim was easily pulled from one side to the other.

“[This bridge] can rescue stranded people in a short time. We would like to participate in evacuation drills and disaster prevention events organized by local governments to improve it,” said Masayoshi Tanaka, 49, an executive officer of Taiyo Kogyo, which is based in Osaka City and developing the bridge.