Today, despite its mass adoption, technology is often portrayed as negative. From recent films like Avatar to the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien technology is used to represent blind progress driven by greed and a need to conquer. Whereas the more primitive way of life, being at one with nature, is seen as possessing greater wisdom and altruistic responsibility.
But there is a middle ground between the luddites and the relentless, uncaring march of progress. Technology can find balance with and within nature. I have a background in wildlife and ecology, have taught bushcraft outdoor skills for over 20 years and have two young sons and have become more and more aware and concerned by the impact I and we are having. But the exploration, adventures, stunts and filmmaking I’m involved necessitate the use of technology so I find myself searching for better ways forward than simply regressing to living in a cave. Which is why I’m so enthusiastic about working as part of the Fully Charged Team.
In some regards, namely EVs as we commonly think of them, I’m a novice. I have only driven a few EVs and am cramming to increase my understanding of the pros, problems and prolific forms of green energy, electric vehicles, power and charging functions. But if we stretch our definition of ‘electric vehicle’ to include any mode of transport powered by a battery then I’ve been an EV user for many years.
We’ll hopefully be covering some of these, and many other unusual forms of EVs, on future episodes of Fully Charged but one of my most-often used EVs is a DPV (Diver Propulsion Vehicle). We use these to increase our speed and decrease our exertion compared to swimming, especially whilst wearing lots of cumbersome diving kit. This is especially useful on long, deep cave dives where we need to cover many kilometres underwater, sometimes against the current with a lot of technical diving kit strapped to us. Modern DPVs run on Li-Ion batteries, just like more conventional EVs, but clearly the need to waterproof them at extreme depths is more important. I’ve also had the chance to pilot three-man submersibles and an Oceanworks Hardsuit (it looks like and armoured space suit but is effectively a wearable submarine). But not all my aquatic-EV experience happened below the surface. I have also used electric boats, water-boards and surface DPV for rescues.
Leaving the marine environment behind I’d taken to the air in EVs too. On a less extreme scale I’ve had the chance to ride, albeit only 6 feet off the ground, on a giant drone and walk around assisted by electrically driven exo-skeleton. And it might be a stretch to call it an EV but I’ve scaled 100m wall in Norway using an electrically powered rope-climbing device which had me running up the cliff.
But the sky is the limit with EVs and we have plans to investigate the aeronautical side of electric energy in Fully Charged as well as having terrestrial and aquatic adventures. My only experience to date has been trialling some EDFs (Electric Duct Fans) which are effectively electric turbine engines. This particular pair were designed by a friend of mine from the UK Space community then strapped to my legs before I jumped out of a plane at 15,000 feet in order to see if they help my ability to break 250 mph in freefall. They did.
But Fully Charged is all about looking to the future. And what does my future at Fully Charged look like? Robert and the team are going to unleash me on motorbikes and vans primarily but we’re all also up for some more unusual types of EV and challenges. I’m hoping to put some of the new vehicles through their paces in the real world to see how they perform away from test tracks and the long list of stats and data. We’re also planning some trips and adventures including some connected with the upcoming LIVE Shows in the UK, the Netherlands and the USA.
About the Author
Andy Torbet is professional cave-diver, freediver, climber, skydiver and outdoorsman. He combines these into an actual job as an Explorer, TV Presenter, Film-Maker, Writer and Stuntman.
Read more about Andy on our About page.