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!
“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.”
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.