Rescue Drone Bounces Harmlessly Off Walls, Takes Home $1M Prize

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An innovative new drone took home a million-dollar prize in Dubai over the weekend. The Gimball, from Flyability, is made for use in rescue situations where debris, smoke and injured people make navigation with ordinary remote-operated vehicles dangerous. "In these missions, safety is critical, and collisions will be unavoidable," explained Flyability co-founder Patrick Thevoz in the company's video pitch for the Drones for Good contest. "We cannot locate victims with a robot that could hurt them."

The solution: a small flying remote vehicle surrounded by a spherical cage and stabilized by an internal gyroscopic platform. The gyros keep the craft upright while the cage makes it safe to bump into people and obstacles, or even roll along walls and ceilings. The company is also working on special cameras to help the Gimball navigate smoky interiors. Certifying and manufacturing a drone meant for use by police and emergency services isn't easy or cheap, but the million-dollar grant from the government of the United Arab Emirates will allow Flyability to commercially develop the device.



—Devin Coldewey