Flying Rescue Drone That Can Search Buildings Wins $1m Prize

Flyability’s Gimball, a somewhat unorthodox-looking rescue drone, has nabbed its makers the UAE Drones for Good award along with a million dollars of prize money. It has been chosen out of a total of 40 enties at the two-day event.

Shaped like a ball and as nimble as an insect, the drone is a collision-tolerant flying robot that manages to remain stable upon colliding with obstacles that come in its way. In fact, it actually uses these obstacles to locate its path. The Gimball accomplishes this through its dual-frame mechanism. Both the outer and inner frames are attached to two carbon fiber rings.

The drone, thanks to its unique build structure, can use collisions to find its way

When a collision occurs, the rings decouple the inner frame from the rotating outer frame. This allows the inner frame to remain stable, while the rotating outer frame bears the impact of the collision. Ultimately, this mechanism allows the drone to creep through smaller and challenging environments without the need for any obstacle avoidance techniques.

The Gimball is also capable of rolling along surfaces, be it the floor or ceiling. In order to ensure that the drone is indoor-friendly, Flyability’s design has taken safety measures into account. The outer frame protects anyone from coming in contact with the propellers that are spinning on the inside.

It could have important applications in disaster relief and rescue missions

Its creators see it as a user-friendly, affordable, and durable tool that can aid during complicated rescue missions or scenarios involving inspection of unreachable areas. For this purpose, it is equipped with a high-definition camera.

The Flyability team now wishes to further enhance the Gimball’s capabilities by adding features such as infra-red imaging for environments that aren’t well-lit or are obstructed by smoke. This, in turn, would open the doors to several more applications, such as firefighthing and law enforcement. The team is looking to make the product commercially available withing a year.