Monday, 12 November 2012

Bats and Biomimetics on television

Tonight on BBC1 at 9pm, I'll be on television with Richard Hammond as part of his 'Miracles of Nature' series looking at Biomimetics, how nature and evolution have inspired engineers. This was filmed in some caves in Bristol where we looked at how echolocating Egyptian fruit-bats can avoid obstacles and how this has inspired technology to help the blind. The work on these bat's echolocation call structures, and the technology we developed to record echolocation went into the 'ultracane' which is a guideance device for the visually impaired. There is some fantastic footage in high-speed infra-red of the bats obviously detecting the wires and pulling in their wings at the last moment. There is also some amazing footage of a blind mountain cyclist using the ultracane technology to steer himself down a forest track.

The footage we shot of the bats actually took about two days, not including the extra two days it took Hannah Sneyd, the researcher for the programme, to bat-proof the caves which are old sandstone mines for the Bristol glass industry and which run under Britstol docks.

We actually filmed two alternative versions, one with Richard Hammond for the BBC and a version without Richard for German TV and the international satellite market. This latter version features some amazing footage using an 'acoustic camera' that superimposes the location of a sound onto a video feed.

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