Collision-Proof UAV Takes Home Grand Prize in Drones for Good Competition


Swiss company Flyability has received a $1 million grant in the United Arab Emirates’ Drones for Good competition for the Gimball unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Gimball, a UAV that can enter confined spaces and safely fly close to humans, is suitable for rescue missions. It is protected by a rotating cage, which allows the aircraft to fly in contact with objects, roll on any surface and remain stable after a collision.

According to Flyability, piloting the Gimball requires almost no prior training or experience: Mistakes that previously may have caused a crash would now only cause the vehicle to bounce against obstacles.

Moreover, the cage allows humans to safely come in contact with the UAV while it is running – bringing the vision of service drones operating among populated areas (e.g., for deliveries) one step closer to reality, says the company.

The winners of the first UAE Drones for Good Award’ were announced on Feb. 7 in the presence of His Highness Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE ministers and international dignitaries. Flyability took home the international prize, and there was also a division for national competitors.

The competition, first launched at the 2014 Government Summit, took place in Dubai Internet City. The Government Summit focuses on how technology will radically reshape government and public services through the introduction of drones, robotics and other innovations.

The competition involved over 800 entries from 57 countries. Spain led the submissions with 62 entries, followed by the U.S., (47), India (34), Saudi Arabia (18), Colombia and Poland (15), and the U.K. (11).

‘The Drones for Good Award is the first of its kind,” says Patrick Thevoz, Flyability team lead. “It is inspirational because while there are many awards for academic research, there aren’t many for the social application of new technology. It allows passionate teams like us to move forward and make this a reality.” He says that with the prize money, the team will be able to “commercially develop [the] product within a year.”

“The Drones for Good Award is a unique opportunity to help people realize that these flying machines are capable of positively impacting society,” he adds.

More information about the Drones for Good competition is available here.

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