Designed In China - Part 1 Click


Designed In China - Part 1

The team is in China to explore the latest surveillance tech, driverless cars and a badminton-playing robot, and takes a sledgehammer to a glass bridge.


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Transcript


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Breathe.

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Clear your mind.

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Forget everything you have learned.

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China has changed.

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Welcome.

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Welcome to a country like none other, one that for so long has

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gone its own way, with its own ancient traditions,

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but which is now ready.

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Ready for anything.

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China may be thousands of years old, but...

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It kind of feels quite young.

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There is an energy here, an enthusiasm to welcome the world,

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and also show the world what it has got.

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And what it has got is not just factories churning out

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other people's stuff.

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The Chinese brands themselves are starting to break out.

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"Made in China" has become "Designed in China."

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Yet there are some parts of life here that you may consider

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unpalatable.

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Its take on human rights, its control of the media,

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its attempts to censor inconvenient information behind that Great

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Firewall.

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From Facebook and Twitter to the mighty Apple,

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western brands are not given an easy ride here,

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although it is not blanket censorship, and people can

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and do circumvent it.

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But that offer from the Western invasion has allowed Chinese

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innovation to flourish, and that is what we are

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here to discover.

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This is Click's Chinese story, part one.

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Let's start with lunch, which on one day looked like this,

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but on other days was consumed on the go, and brought to us

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by an army of scooter-riding food angels like these.

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Yet, today in Beijing we are ordering a delivery

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from a local restaurant using WeChat, the social

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network of China.

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It is a full-on, multipurpose tool.

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Think of a mix between Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook.

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You can do business, you can have fun.

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Yes, China is trying to go big on innovation.

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It has over 1,600 accelerators, including the rather nice looking

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Innovation Works, founded by the head of Google China.

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There is a wall here of the billion-dollar projects

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they have backed, including one which has been valued

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at over $3 billion.

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Yep, more than 270 million people use this selfie-beautifying app

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every month, and for now this includes me.

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Pretty.

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But they don't just use accelerators.

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They have a whole startup street, called Innoway.

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Above each cafe an incubator, and above each of those,

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working space for new companies, which is free for three months.

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And it is here that I met Ganshu Wu, whose own start-up is being talked

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about as potentially revolutionising the autonomous car industry.

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In China, the situation is a little bit different.

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When the government tries to push something, it typically gets enough

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attention, enough resources, enough forces.

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So in China you know that you are always seeing everyone go

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in the same direction.

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It is good, it is bad.

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But sometimes, at this point, everyone goes into this mass

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entrepreneurship and innovation.

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I think it helps.

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But walking around Innoway, it doesn't really look

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like there is that much take-up yet.

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Still, if you are really successful, you don't just get your own street,

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you get your own palace.

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Welcome to DeepGlint.

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It is led by Yong Zhao, a co-founder of Google Glass,

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who today has invited me to take part in this colourful demo.

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What is the purpose of the hula hoops?

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We put it on the body, and no matter where you move,

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it follows you.

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Therefore they understand and behave accordingly.

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DeepGlint specialises in 3-D vision and deep learning,

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and uses this to make sense of how people are moving around.

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One of our most important customers are banks.

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They really want to understand people's behaviour in their space,

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no matter whether you are a customer, or people walking

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casually.

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So if you are casual, you don't want to walk too fast,

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like you are running.

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That might mean something really bad is happening.

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She is upset with you.

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You are stealing the couch.

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Or there are some places where they don't want you to get in.

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If I walk on to this mat, they are going to complain.

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This is a sensitive area.

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Or if you stay in this room for too long, it also complains.

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So if I wanted to rob this bank I would have to do it very slowly,

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but also get it done very quickly.

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Yes.

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Right.

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If somebody was hurt and falling on the floor,

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the camera will know.

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Someone is falling down.

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So I have also not got to injure anyone, while moving

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slowly and quickly.

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You cannot do this!

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I think I will rob somewhere else.

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And it is more than just behaviour that is being monitored here.

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DeepGlint supplies facial recognition systems that can pick

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out hundreds of places at once, and even identify stolen cars,

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not by their number plates, which may have been changed,

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but by their markings, their stickers and their scratches.

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Of course, it is not just in Beijing that you find innovation

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start-ups and incubators.

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They are happening all over this vast country.

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And we have been to central China, to Chengdu, where something very

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strange is going on.

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Yes, I have travelled to the heart of China's Sichuan Province,

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to the provincial capital, Chengdu.

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It is famous for its pandas and mahjong.

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There are even tables in the countryside.

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I am playing mahjong, I think.

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And it is now building a reputation for hi-tech too.

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The University for Engineering, Science and Technology is one

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of the best in the country for robotics.

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There are 35,000 students here, from all over China.

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And many of them make robots, including these autonomous

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characters.

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Kitted out with high-definition cameras, they are designed to carry

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out jobs from neighbourhood watch to monitoring bail conditions.

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They can even keep track of prisoners in jail.

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The theme of surveillance is strong here, as you might expect.

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A team from the university has developed this police car prototype.

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The 360-degree camera mounted on the car's roof can automatically

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scan for faces within a 60-metre radius.

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I tested it out by going for a run, and it did pick out my face.

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It would be matched against a police database to see if I was a criminal

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or suspect, and then send an alert to the car

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if I was a positive match.

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The final version of the car should be able to pick people out at speeds

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of up to 120 kilometres an hour.

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Spooky stuff.

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But we have really come to Chengdu to play with this.

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Oh, my goodness, it is actually really intimidating.

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Whoa!

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The robot is designed to be as much like a human player as possible.

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Its eyes are the HD cameras at the back of the court.

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These computers send prediction data on where the shuttlecock will fall

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back to the robot via Bluetooth.

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Its hands are racquets.

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The information received needs to be millimetre-accurate for it

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to get shots back.

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The robot starts in the central position.

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Its brain has a map of the court, and it won't venture

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outside the lines.

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I think I can beat him, but he is...

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So how did you get involved in this project?

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And did you win the competition?

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Yeah, of course!

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Champion!

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No arguing there.

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You don't have to drive far in China's cities

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to hit this.

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HORNS BEEPING

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In fact, this is why you can't really drive far at all.

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Not in less than an hour, anyway.

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And that might explain why China is working fast to catch up

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with the current talk of the town, autonomous cars.

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Right now everyone owns a private car.

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But down the road, it doesn't need to be this way.

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The car can be shared among many people.

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Only 5% of the time the car is driven, 95% of the time

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it is parked.

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So if you have autonomous cars, they can drive off and go away.

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Yes, they can go away.

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It is easy.

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Yes, when you think about it, there is a good argument for sharing

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autonomous vehicles, and that argument is being made

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by Baidu, China's largest search engine.

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It has developed a plan to design a test area for autonomous cars

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and buses over the next five years.

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This is Baidu's autonomous car.

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It is a BMW, with all the features of any autonomous car.

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You have super-accurate GPS there, lidar, or laser-accurate radar,

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on the top and on all four sides, and on the front, millimetre-wave

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radar, and a ton of cameras in the windscreen, to watch out

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for obstacles and map the roads.

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And inside, possibly the most important feature of any autonomous

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car, an emergency red stop button.

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But is driving in China any different to driving anywhere else

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in the world?

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Well, to get a sense of the actual technology you'd need to navigate

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in Beijing traffic, I was taken for a ride by that famous

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Chinese company...Volvo.

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Quite a bit of the technology that we will find in autonomous cars

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already exists and is already in cars that you can buy today.

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This one, for example, can keep a safe distance

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from the car in front and it can keep in lane,

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as long as it can see good lane markings either side of it.

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Not that we have much opportunity to use those features here.

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I wouldn't call it chaos, everyone did seem to know

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what they were doing.

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Everyone except me.

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I don't even know how many lanes there are here.

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If you are an autonomous car, you need to deal with this,

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you need to deal with this chap.

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You need to deal with the man coming past a few minutes

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ago selling turtles.

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So, a little way to go before we hit this sexy vision of the future.

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Chinese video streaming company Letv says it is developing

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its own self-driving car.

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Why?

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Because in the future what else will we be doing in our autonomous

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cars than watching its TV and movie service?

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Hmm.

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Certainly looks like it will cost a fortune and,

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yes, that is a problem.

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Autonomous cars are expensive to develop and will be filled

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with expensive components.

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But, interestingly, this car, developed by Uisee, a company

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founded by our good friend Gansha Wu, is dispensing

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with the very expensive lidar and inertial sensors

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and using cheaper stereo cameras to help it see in a different way.

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We have an interesting metaphor.

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So, Google has pretty good eyesight based on all the censors.

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So it has an eyesight of 2.0.

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So they don't need to be very smart.

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Probably they have an IQ of 120.

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But for us we want to have an eyesight of 1.5,

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with an IQ of 180.

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We actually built a supercomputer in the car.

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All of this traffic is contributing to another big problem here.

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Pollution.

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In 1978 there were just 1.3 million vehicles on China's roads.

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Today there are 279 million.

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The smog is sometimes so bad it's breathtaking.

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You can see the haze kind of over there, but you will get a much

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better idea from the top of this building here.

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Right, so, now you can see it, can't you?

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There's the Olympic tower, the Water Cube,

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and the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium.

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There are mountains over there, trust me!

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Not that you've got a chance to see them today.

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It's up here that I'm meeting IBM's chairman in China,

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Liming Chen, who has his eye on a cleaner future.

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We normally use 1978 as a kind of benchmark.

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That's the year China opened up, right?

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If you look at the population in 1978, our population

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was only 960 million.

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Today we have 1.35 billion.

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The net increase is almost 400 million.

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So whenever you have a population increase then you have energy

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consumption, no doubt about that.

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Couple that massive growth in population, traffic and industry

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with the fact that China's main fossil fuel is the one that produces

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the most CO2, coal, and you can see why the horizon is so grey.

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Previous attempts to turn it blue again have involved shutting down

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everything, factories and traffic, in the whole Beijing area for four

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weeks in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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But IBM has developed a smarter way to manage pollution and turn

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the horizon green.

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This is the home of the Green Horizon Project, a massive

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undertaking to predict where and how bad the pollution will

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be ten days ahead.

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Not only does Green Horizon help predict which areas will be hit

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worst, it can help predict the environmental and economic

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effects of different pollution management strategies,

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from shutting down certain factories to banning traffic

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in different areas.

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Now, an enormous amount of data is being analysed here,

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coming from ground sensors, satellites, weather forecasts,

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geographic information, traffic data and factory emission monitoring.

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Green Horizon is even learning how to read comments and pictures

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on social media.

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Social media can help us to quickly locate some of the pollution events.

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Leaking, or illegal emissions, so we can use social media data

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to help quickly find out those pollution sources.

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This project is already active in several cities in China and it's

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being piloted in New Delhi and Johannesburg too.

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I've been gobsmacked at just how stunning Beijing is.

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But it's going to take an awful lot of work to keep the air clean enough

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for us all to appreciate it.

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No such problems here - 1,500 kilometres to the south-west

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of the capital in central China, in the mist covered

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mountains of Zhangjiajie.

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I've come to China's oldest national park,

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which holds a very new secret.

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Tucked away on the edge of this World Heritage Site,

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someone's decided to build a bridge from the middle of nowhere

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to the middle of nowhere.

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Unlike me, they hope the thousands of visitors that will come

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here won't be too scared to look down, 300 metres through the world's

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highest glass walkway.

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These are the final days of construction

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for this three-year project.

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More than 300 engineers have worked through all weather conditions

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to build what's also the world's longest glass-bottomed bridge,

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a breathtaking 430 metres, crossing Zhangjiajie's grand canyon.

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And the bridge, you can see, it opens up to the sky.

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Usually bridges are parallel and this one is like that,

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so you feel the sky is coming into the bridge.

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The walkway itself is just 60 centimetres thick,

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so the challenge to keep everything stable has required

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some fresh thinking.

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70 glass balls are to be positioned on springs along the walkway.

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They have been designed to move to counter any swaying.

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These curvy railings will persuade up to 800 visitors to keep changing

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direction, offsetting the resonance caused by hundreds walking

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at a constant speed.

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And then there are the water tanks.

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TRANSLATION: We are going to put four water tanks on the bridge.

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When the bridge vibrates the water inside these tanks will make waves.

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We've calculated the size of the tanks so the frequency

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of the water waves and the bridge's vibration are different.

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So when the bridge vibrates the water tanks can help to stop it.

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They are hoping to sway tourists to stay longer.

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This amphitheatre will host fashion and light shows and next year you'll

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be able to throw yourself off the edge and experience the world's

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highest bungee jump.

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At this altitude you can't afford for anything to go wrong.

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And eight months ago it did.

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Pictures showing how a cliff hugging glass walkway had smashed under

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the feet of a tourist after he dropped a mug went viral.

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The walkway was closed.

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Our hosts were keen to show me just how safe I was.

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Each panel of the walkway has three levels of toughened glass,

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held together by glue.

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Well, the president has given me a hammer and says that even if I get

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through all three layers of glass I won't fall through.

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He also says I will be the toughest man in the world if I can get

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through this lot.

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So this is how they are going to assuage people's

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fears of glass bridges.

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Here goes!

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And it looks like you can see the top glass has shattered here.

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Three!

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Oh!

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We're OK.

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Oh!

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PANTS

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Do you know what?

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I think this might be safe!

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OK, guys, we get the point.

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And so at last it was time to welcome the very first specially

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invited tourists onto the glass.

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It is an unnerving experience and it takes a little

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while to get used to.

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I have only just begun to be able to do that.

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It's a remarkable feat and it is really something

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for the eyes.

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This entire structure is incredibly impressive and I'm sure we'll get

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very, very similar reactions when it is opened to

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the public next month.

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Dan Simmons, in Zhangjiajie.

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And our China adventure continues later this month with two more shows

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from this amazing country.

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Next week we're in Los Angeles for the world's biggest video

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games expo, E3.

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For now, enjoy the view.

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Hello there.

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All sorts going on this weekend, weatherwise.

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Continuing to have huge variety in our weather over the next few

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days, keep your eye on the forecast.

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On Saturday, it was lovely, blue skies and sunshine in Cornwall

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made it feel very warm.

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A comprehensive guide to all the latest gadgets, websites, games and computer industry news. As part of the BBC World News Designed in China Season, Click visits Beijing.

The team explores the latest surveillance tech, driverless cars and a badminton-playing robot, and takes a sledgehammer to a glass bridge.


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