The Swiss-based team behind the crash-proof Gimball flying machine this week collected $1 million after taking the top prize in the UAE’s international Drones For Good contest.
Flyability’s spherical drone, which has been in development for several years, impressed judges with its ability to search in tight spaces by bouncing off obstacles, rolling across floors and crawling along ceilings, functionality that’s likely to grab the attention of search and rescue teams working in disaster zones.
Lightweight and simple to operate, the gyroscopically balanced Gimball houses all of its mechanics – including its propellers and an HD camera – inside a lightweight carbon frame. This not only allows it to comfortably deal with both moving and stationary objects as it moves around its environment, but also ensures its rotor blades don’t slice off the nose of an unsuspecting individual that happens to come into close contact with the machine.
Flyability says the Gimball’s innovative design allows it to easily gather close-up images of any object in its environment, indoors or outdoors. Even better, the machine requires little training to operate “as mistakes that previously meant crashing a drone now only result in the robot bouncing against obstacles.”
It adds that its cage-like frame “brings the vision of service drones operating among populated areas one step closer to reality, for instance for goods delivery.” If Jeff Bezos hasn’t yet been in touch, he may be soon.
Flyability intend to use the cash prize to develop Gimball for first responders, introducing new elements to the flying machine such as infrared imaging for dark or smoke-filled environments and improved indoor localization.