IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Flying ball goes anywhere

A spherical flying machine that can take off and land just about anywhere, roll along walls and hover like a helicopter was recently unveiled by Japan's Ministry of Defense

The beach-ball-size machine consists of commercially available parts that cost about U.S. $1,400. The researchers built it to study a problem associated with their aircraft R&D, as explained in the video above from DigInfo

"We have a plane that can stand up vertically after flying horizontally. But the problem with that plane is take-off and landing are very difficult," the researcher explains. "As one idea to solve that problem, we thought of making the exterior round."

Since the flying ball works like a propeller plane, it can fly forward at high speed using wings, which a helicopter can't do, DigInfo notes. And three gyro sensors keeps it moving along even after bumping into an obstacle.

Ultimately, an aircraft developed with this technology could be used for search-and-rescue missions in otherwise hard-to-reach places. For more information, check out the video above. 

More on defense robots:

John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. To learn more about him, check out his website. For more of our Future of Technology series, watch the featured video below.