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Like a flying hamster ball, Droneball soars around in a cage to protect it from crashes

Anyone who has bought and operated a drone has had that moment of stomach-in-their-mouth fear when they see their beloved unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) about to plow into a wall or other obstacle and be dashed to pieces.

An upcoming drone, set to be publicly unveiled at the U.K. Drone Show this weekend, hopes to put a stop to those awful moments of apprehension. The so-called Droneball is billed as a “crash-proof” consumer drone that flies in its own smart cage — thereby allowing it to harmlessly bounce off walls and obstacles that may well wreck other drones.

Picture a drone in a hamster ball and you won’t be far wrong!

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“The issue of crashing is a big one among drone users,” creator Andrew McDonald told Digital Trends. “There’s the cost of repairs and, if you’re a professional drone operator, the cost of downtime. There are a few software solutions out there that use obstacle detection and avoidance, but they don’t always work too well. If you’ve got a drone flying at speed, it’s difficult to get it to stop before it hits a wall. We solve that problem. This gives you a real feeling of invincibility when you’re flying.”

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The concept behind Droneball has been in development since 2014, and the hours spent working on it have resulted in some nice touches. For instance, it uses a gimbal-like, multi-axis running ring track that keeps the drone level inside its cage at all times.

This also means that you can set the drone rolling on the floor like a wheel — but with the UAV always staying upright. The first-person camera feature opens up some interesting possibilities — potentially including commercial exploratory applications.

As noted, Droneball will be at the U.K. Drone Show this weekend. If you can’t make it to the show, don’t worry — it’s coming to Indiegogo, where you can pre-order the Droneball for $399, starting December 8.