Investigating new and future technology. Featuring the future of flying transport and exploring whether humans could have super sight.
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No, we haven't made a spelling mistake - this is Technobytes.
It's Technobabble for people on the go.
And don't worry, we've still got our randomly-named messaging app.
Vlogster, what is the future of
Who shall I send out on this one?
Frankie - he often finds it hard to keep his feet on the ground.
I'm sending Frankie to see the world's largest aircraft.
It uses plane, helicopter and airship technology,
and is being put together in a hangar in Bedfordshire.
This is Chris Daniels, a flight techspert who is helping
get this mammoth aircraft off the ground.
Wow, Chris, this thing is massive. What is it? Is it an airship?
It's not an airship, it's a hybrid aircraft,
it's called the Airlander, and it's a mix between an aeroplane's
wing and an old-fashioned airship.
So, why does it have these three sections?
This is actually the back of it. That's where the engines go.
But also it means that we're spread out,
so we get maximum aerodynamical wing-shaped lift from it.
Amazing. So when are we taking off?
We're still assembling it, so we're not quite ready.
But let's go and take a look.
I feel like an insect next to this. It's absolutely huge.
-How big is it, exactly?
-Well, it's the world's largest aircraft.
-It's 92 metres long, 45 metres wide, so that's the size of a
football pitch, and it's 26 metres high,
-which is probably about a ten-storey building.
And I've noticed as well that it's not actually touching the ground.
Is it floating right now?
It is floating. It's filled with helium,
which is the same stuff that keeps party balloons up.
And there's about a million party balloons worth of helium in
there right now.
So, if it's like a giant balloon, does that mean it could pop?
Well, no. It's made of special super-strong material.
I've got some in my pocket, here. And you can't rip it.
I'll give it a go.
Come on, Frankie, give it some welly.
Vlogster, I'm really trying, here!
Nope. That's not happening.
So, how do you fly this giant balloon?
Well, let's go and visit the cockpit and find out.
How does this differ from flying a plane?
We can land and takeoff from anywhere, including water,
and that gives us lots of different capabilities,
tasks that we can do that aeroplanes can't.
How long can it stay in the air for?
We can stay airborne for up to three weeks at a time.
Three weeks, that's incredible.
-And will you be able to take passengers, eventually?
There'll be an amazing experience because you'll be able to
open the windows so you can see everything.
We'll be... About two or three years and we'll have a passenger variant.
And to give Frankie a flavour of what it's like to fly this
aircraft, he's going to meet chief test pilot
David Burns, and take the controls.
So, David, I'm sitting here in this simulator and I'm not quite
sure what's going on.
As you see, we're over San Francisco - simulated - and you're
flying along quite nicely at about 3,000ft.
This is really cool.
You're doing a good job, you're maintaining absolutely level,
we're flying along,
the picture's not changing so we're flying nice and level,
and we're just in a gentle left-hand turn, which is nice.
So, David, at the moment I'm just using this control stick here,
and the thrusters over here. But there are a lot of switches.
Do you have to know what all of them are?
Fortunately, most of them are labelled, but they are all...
-..so you get used to what they are.
You know what, David? I think I'm getting the hang of this.
But I can't imagine what it must be like to feel
the power of the engines.
Let's go outside and we'll let you experience that for yourself.
Tell me a bit more about these bad boys.
The produce 350 horsepower each,
and they've got butterfly veins on the back,
which are like car blowers, so you can push the air upwards,
downwards, right or left, and basically go anywhere you like.
And even hover.
They're not very noisy, but they're a little bit noisy,
so you better take some of these.
Right. Let's go.
OK, Vlogster, sign me up for a ticket.
Here's some tech that is ready for takeoff, Frankie-boy.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
No - it's Jetman, aka Swiss pilot and aviation stuntman, Yves Rossy.
These purpose-built jetpacks have
two-and-a-half metre wide Kevlar wings,
are powered by four jet engines, and can fly at 160mph.
That is some serious tech, Vlogster. What else has got wings?
The next big thing is electric planes.
French techsperts have developed the e-fan,
an almost emission-free and silent aircraft.
With over 100 successful test flights,
the e-fan has a range of about an hour.
Loving your work, Vlogster.
Loving your work too, Frankie. That was "high"-ly informative.
And now we've got another information seeker
wanting to take flight.
Vlogster, could we get super-sight
like a superhero?
Great question, Oliver.
I've actually no "eye"-dea.
Let's see what I can find out.
First up, X-ray vision.
German carmakers have been trying this out in prototype vehicles.
Using augmented-reality glasses to overlay information to drivers such
as speed, directions, and points of interest onto the road ahead.
But the clever bit happens when the driver looks sideways.
Cameras on the outside of the car display a
video feed of what's going on. As if the doors aren't there at all!
Just like the driver is wearing X-ray specs.
The idea is that this tech could make tricky parking
a thing of the past.
Next, enhanced vision.
A Canadian company have developed a miniature optic implant that
gives you three times better than perfect vision.
And it helps you shift focus from close to far away faster than
a blink of an eye.
Similarly, Swedish researchers have developed contact lenses that can
zoom in like a camera lens when you wink - to get you three times
closer to the action.
And American techsperts are developing electronic
contact lenses that will give you humans all sorts of extra abilities,
from testing the levels of glucose in your body,
to an in-built camera, and even special night vision.
Finally - cyborg vision.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have
created intelligent computer recognition software that can
identify a huge array of common objects.
When the software is combined with electronic smart glasses,
it will give you humans the power to find and locate almost
anything with complete ease.
If you booted your ball away and can't spot it,
just put on your glasses and they'll highlight exactly where it is,
in a cyborg-like display.
You won't even bat an eyelid! See!
I can SEE where that technology is going.
But one thing I don't need cyborg-vision to see is the end of
Cos it's here - see ya!
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.