Flyability Drones for Good Semi-Finals

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Flyability is the winner of the UAE drones for good award. This is our video submission for the Semi-Finals.
Flyability has developed Gimball, a drone that can enter confined spaces and safely fly close to humans, proving to be highly effective in rescue missions. It is protected by a rotating cage which makes it capable of colliding with obstacles in challenging environments without losing its stability.

Gimball is the world’s first collision-tolerant flying robot capable of remaining stable after collisions, allowing a robust and easy access to places out of reach of current technologies. Gimball uses obstacles to find its way instead of avoiding them, offering a simple solution to a complex problem. This is achieved without complex and error-prone sense-and-avoid techniques, and answers one of the most important needs in the fast-growing flying robotics market.

The innovation of Gimball lies in the patented rotating protective frame and flight control algorithms developed during 5 years of research at EPFL in Switzerland. Based on principles of robustness and simplicity, but relying on cutting-edge technology in control and material science, its development was inspired by the behavior of insects, like flies, which easily recover after encountering an obstacle by bouncing and continuing flying undisturbed.

The inner frame comprises everything a flying robot needs to stabilize in flight: a coaxial motor, two control surfaces, the battery, an IMU and control electronics. In case of collision, GimBall’s spherical protective frame prevents obstacles from touching the inner frame and can passively rotate thanks to a gimbal system (hence the name). This way, the contact force does not affect the orientation of the inner frame, whose center of mass is also carefully centered. This allows the inner frame to always stay upright, and maintain the robot in stable flight.

A conventional platform will be strongly affected by collisions, because its orientation is disturbed. GimBall keeps the orientation of its inner frame stable thanks to the gimbal system. Note that this is a side-view of a collision in the vertical plane, but the principle remains the same from all angles, since the protective cage rotates around all 3 axes.

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