This strange flying ball called “Gimball” has just made one million dollars for its designers. The new genre drone won the first "Drones for Good"award in the World Cup competition created by the United Arab Emirates, a competition which pitted 40 flying machines against each other.
The Gimball’s characteristics are that it is collision-tolerant for use both indoors and outdoors. Thanks to its 34 centimetre (13,5 inches) diameter, insect inspired, outer gimballed carbon fibre sphere, the “Gimball” fears no obstacle, and even uses the surfaces it encounters to move around while keeping on track. Another strong point, relative to other UAV’s, is that it can fly close to humans without fear of injury, to them or itself.
Fitted with a camera and sensors, the drone, weighing less than 400 grams (14 oz.) is destined for reconnaissance missions over rough terrain, or within complicated environments. It could, for example, search for victims trapped inside a collapsed structure following a disaster, or be used in the maintenance inspection of normally inaccessible industrial structures; but its designers do not exclude its use for purely recreational purposes.
The project was conceived by two Swiss, Patrick Thévoz and Pascal Biod. Flyability, the startup they created one year ago to develop the prototype, currently employs nine people, and is looking to expand. With the one million dollar prize, they will be able to accelerate the development of the “Gimball”, and find even lighter and stronger materials. Its marketing is scheduled for the end of the year, at a price somewhere in the region of 10,000 euros.