Flying drones inside burning buildings while looking for disaster survivors is incredibly hard, but it's also one of the most promising applications of the machines. That's why the Gimball search and rescue drone, billed as the world's first collision-proof drone, was just awarded $1 million in the United Arab Emirates' Drones for Good competition.


The orb-shaped aircraft, made by Flyability, bounces off of obstacles and rolls along surfaces. The compact, electronically stabilized two-rotor design means the Gimball can easily maneuver stairways and halls, while the tough carbon fiber cage keeps the gadgets' guts safe. It's like a flying version of BB-8, the rolling ball droid in the new Star Wars movie. Except this scifi-inspired is poised for mass production within a year.

The longterm plan is to use the Gimball to fly into dangerous places—say a building on fire—and inspect damage or find victims. The simple design is also suited to industrial inspectors who might want to fly the drone into a nuclear reactor. Heck, maybe Flyability will make a consumer version. Until then, if you're looking for a crash-proof drone, you should try one of these. [Flyability via Engadget]

GIF by Michael Hession / Image via Flyability