Episode 9 Technobytes


Episode 9

Investigating new and future technology. Featuring the future of flying transport and exploring whether humans could have super sight.


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Transcript


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No, we haven't made a spelling mistake - this is Technobytes.

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It's Technobabble for people on the go.

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And don't worry, we've still got our randomly-named messaging app.

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Vlogster, what is the future of

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-flying?

-Thanks Rachel.

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Who shall I send out on this one?

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Frankie - he often finds it hard to keep his feet on the ground.

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I'm sending Frankie to see the world's largest aircraft.

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It uses plane, helicopter and airship technology,

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and is being put together in a hangar in Bedfordshire.

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This is Chris Daniels, a flight techspert who is helping

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get this mammoth aircraft off the ground.

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Wow, Chris, this thing is massive. What is it? Is it an airship?

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It's not an airship, it's a hybrid aircraft,

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it's called the Airlander, and it's a mix between an aeroplane's

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wing and an old-fashioned airship.

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So, why does it have these three sections?

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This is actually the back of it. That's where the engines go.

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But also it means that we're spread out,

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so we get maximum aerodynamical wing-shaped lift from it.

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Amazing. So when are we taking off?

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We're still assembling it, so we're not quite ready.

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But let's go and take a look.

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I feel like an insect next to this. It's absolutely huge.

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-How big is it, exactly?

-Well, it's the world's largest aircraft.

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-Really?

-It's 92 metres long, 45 metres wide, so that's the size of a

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football pitch, and it's 26 metres high,

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-which is probably about a ten-storey building.

-Wow.

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And I've noticed as well that it's not actually touching the ground.

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Is it floating right now?

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It is floating. It's filled with helium,

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which is the same stuff that keeps party balloons up.

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And there's about a million party balloons worth of helium in

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there right now.

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So, if it's like a giant balloon, does that mean it could pop?

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Well, no. It's made of special super-strong material.

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I've got some in my pocket, here. And you can't rip it.

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I'll give it a go.

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Come on, Frankie, give it some welly.

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Vlogster, I'm really trying, here!

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Nope. That's not happening.

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So, how do you fly this giant balloon?

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Well, let's go and visit the cockpit and find out.

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How does this differ from flying a plane?

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We can land and takeoff from anywhere, including water,

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and that gives us lots of different capabilities,

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tasks that we can do that aeroplanes can't.

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How long can it stay in the air for?

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We can stay airborne for up to three weeks at a time.

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Three weeks, that's incredible.

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-And will you be able to take passengers, eventually?

-Absolutely.

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There'll be an amazing experience because you'll be able to

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open the windows so you can see everything.

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We'll be... About two or three years and we'll have a passenger variant.

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And to give Frankie a flavour of what it's like to fly this

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aircraft, he's going to meet chief test pilot

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David Burns, and take the controls.

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So, David, I'm sitting here in this simulator and I'm not quite

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sure what's going on.

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As you see, we're over San Francisco - simulated - and you're

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flying along quite nicely at about 3,000ft.

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This is really cool.

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You're doing a good job, you're maintaining absolutely level,

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we're flying along,

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the picture's not changing so we're flying nice and level,

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and we're just in a gentle left-hand turn, which is nice.

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So, David, at the moment I'm just using this control stick here,

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and the thrusters over here. But there are a lot of switches.

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Do you have to know what all of them are?

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Fortunately, most of them are labelled, but they are all...

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-FRANKIE LAUGHS

-..so you get used to what they are.

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You know what, David? I think I'm getting the hang of this.

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But I can't imagine what it must be like to feel

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the power of the engines.

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Let's go outside and we'll let you experience that for yourself.

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No way(!)

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Tell me a bit more about these bad boys.

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The produce 350 horsepower each,

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and they've got butterfly veins on the back,

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which are like car blowers, so you can push the air upwards,

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downwards, right or left, and basically go anywhere you like.

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And even hover.

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They're not very noisy, but they're a little bit noisy,

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so you better take some of these.

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Brilliant.

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Right. Let's go.

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ENGINE HUMS

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OK, Vlogster, sign me up for a ticket.

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Here's some tech that is ready for takeoff, Frankie-boy.

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Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

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No - it's Jetman, aka Swiss pilot and aviation stuntman, Yves Rossy.

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These purpose-built jetpacks have

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two-and-a-half metre wide Kevlar wings,

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are powered by four jet engines, and can fly at 160mph.

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That is some serious tech, Vlogster. What else has got wings?

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The next big thing is electric planes.

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French techsperts have developed the e-fan,

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an almost emission-free and silent aircraft.

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With over 100 successful test flights,

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the e-fan has a range of about an hour.

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Loving your work, Vlogster.

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Loving your work too, Frankie. That was "high"-ly informative.

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Hee-hee-hee.

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And now we've got another information seeker

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wanting to take flight.

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Vlogster, could we get super-sight

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like a superhero?

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Great question, Oliver.

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I've actually no "eye"-dea.

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Let's see what I can find out.

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First up, X-ray vision.

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German carmakers have been trying this out in prototype vehicles.

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Using augmented-reality glasses to overlay information to drivers such

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as speed, directions, and points of interest onto the road ahead.

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But the clever bit happens when the driver looks sideways.

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Cameras on the outside of the car display a

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video feed of what's going on. As if the doors aren't there at all!

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Just like the driver is wearing X-ray specs.

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The idea is that this tech could make tricky parking

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a thing of the past.

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Next, enhanced vision.

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A Canadian company have developed a miniature optic implant that

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gives you three times better than perfect vision.

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And it helps you shift focus from close to far away faster than

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a blink of an eye.

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Similarly, Swedish researchers have developed contact lenses that can

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zoom in like a camera lens when you wink - to get you three times

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closer to the action.

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And American techsperts are developing electronic

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contact lenses that will give you humans all sorts of extra abilities,

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from testing the levels of glucose in your body,

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to an in-built camera, and even special night vision.

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Finally - cyborg vision.

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Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have

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created intelligent computer recognition software that can

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identify a huge array of common objects.

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When the software is combined with electronic smart glasses,

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it will give you humans the power to find and locate almost

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anything with complete ease.

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If you booted your ball away and can't spot it,

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just put on your glasses and they'll highlight exactly where it is,

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in a cyborg-like display.

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You won't even bat an eyelid! See!

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I can SEE where that technology is going.

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But one thing I don't need cyborg-vision to see is the end of

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the show.

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Cos it's here - see ya!

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Technobtyes is the snack-size version of CBBCs Technobabble which investigates new and future technology. This ep showcases the future of flying transport and explores whether humans could have super sight.


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