Flying Ball Drone Wins $1 Million Prize
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Sunday, 15 February 2015

Flyability's insect-inspired, crash resilient drone, Gimball, is the winner of the inaugural UAE Drones for Good Award, an international contest for the best use of civilian drones


The competition had the aim of:

 transforming these exciting technologies into practical solutions for improving people‚Äôs lives today.

It was announced in February 2014 by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ruler of Dubai, who said at the launch:

"We want to reach to people before they reach us. We want to save time, to shorten distances, to increase effectiveness and to make services easier."



The contest attracted some 800 submissions for 57 countries and 19 projects took part in the International Finals this month. The winner, Flyability had entered GimBall in the  Disaster Relief category describing it as:  

A small, lightweight drone which has the unique capability of being able to collide on obstacles without losing its stability and of being safe to fly in contact with humans. 

The video submission for the competition shows it in action:


Unlike some other submissions that appear to be at the concept stage, see RoboHub for a pick of the semi-finalist videos, this drone has been under development for a few years. It has already gone from being a research project, at the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne (EPFL), to the formation last year of Flyability, a start-up that recently announced seed financing from European and Swiss business angels.


I Programmer first reported on GimBall in November 2013 when Adrien Broid, CTO and co-founder of Flyability explained how it is equipped with a rotating frame round an inner frame that always remain stable even when there are collisions. This gives it the potential to be deployed into very difficult environments for search and rescue missions.



As well as the international contest, there was also a national competition for existing drone projects within the United Arab Emirates with an award of AED 1 million. It was won by the Wadi Drones project in which drones will document the UAE's wildlife by gathering images of different Wadies flora and fauna. A further 14 projects reached the semi-final stage.


More Information

Drones for Good

Semi Finalists


Semi Finalists International Competition


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