Space & Innovation

Crash-Proof Drone Tossed Into Icy Crevasse

The Gimball video drone is designed to handle tough environments so a rescue team tested it in the Swiss Alps. Continue reading →

The flying Gimball video drone is designed to survive rough environments without breaking into a million pieces. But before this thing can go on a real search-and-rescue mission, it was sent down deep ice cracks in the Swiss Alps.

9 Stunning Aerial Images Captured By Drones: Photos

Swiss company Flyability developed Gimball as a "collision-resistant" drone that allows pros to explore inaccessible places. The drone's flying and video equipment are surrounded by a free-rotating spherical cage, allowing it to capture thermal information and high-definition imagery in real time so rescuers can locate victims in hard-to-reach spots.

Gimball started as a robotics project at École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland. The roboticists were inspired by insects that can bounce off a wall and keep going. Being able to move through unpredictable environments is a must for any rescue drone.

Last spring Gimball won the UAE Drones for Good award, which came with a million-dollar development grant. More recently, Flyability teamed up with the Zermatt Glacier rescue team in the Swiss Alps for a serious test. They sent Gimball into deep icy fractures called crevasses more than 11,400 feet above sea level. Climbers can fall in them, especially ones hidden under thin ice, and get trapped.

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"The embedded full HD camera, digital live video transmission and the powerful lighting system allowed the drone to operate in the heart of the mountain glacier," Flyability's press release said. Check out a video of the crevasse from the drone's perspective set to soaring music:

click to play video

What surprised me about that video is the steadiness - despite all the tumbling, bouncing, and flying. The protective spherical cage spins around the whole time, but the footage looks like it came from a human-operated Steadicam.

So if you have the misfortune of falling into a crevasse or getting trapped in a collapsed building in the future, don't be surprised if this smart little drone comes to check on you. Help is a drone's throw away.

via Gizmag

From their high perspective and discreet presence, drones have the ability to capture unique aerial images. Mobile app maker Dronestagram saw the potential for a contest and this year's winners are truly inspiring. Dronestagram executives, along with staff from National Geographic, reviewed more than 5,000 photos taken by drones around the world to identify the top winners. Here, you'll find aerial imagery ranging from snorkelers in French Polynesia to a cliff diver in Mazatlan, Mexico. Enjoy! Above: This photo radiates suspense as snorkelers swim in the center of eight gliding sharks in French Polynesia. The photo took top honors in the "Nature" category.

A custom-built drone rose above the fog to capture this photograph of the cross at the top of the Cathedral of Maringa in Brazil. It won first prize in the "Places" category.

In the "Dronies" category, which represents selfie-like photos taken with drones, an image of a group of people dressed like they are out of a Where’s Wally scene (better known as Where’s Waldo in America) won first place. Where were they really? At Limassol Carnival in Cyprus.

This picture of participants at the very beginning of La Jolla, San Diego’s Pier-To-Cove ocean race took second in the "Nature" category.

Taking second place in the "Places" category, this photo of the Mont Saint-Michel island commune in Normandy, France, features calm waters, a gorgeous landmark and a spectacular sky.

This photo features Plovdiv, an ancient Bulgarian city, lit up magically at night. The image took second price for the "Popular" category, which represents the most-liked photos.

Taking third place in the "Nature" category, this photo of a tropical island in French Polynesia shows spectacular aerial imagery of a group of people with their toes in the water, along with lush trees and a breathtaking sky. Look closely and you’ll also find a hidden rainbow.

This image of a colorful field of tulips in the Netherlands and a group of people strolling trough them took third prize in the "Places" category.

This adventure-packed photo features a cliff diver in Mazatlan, Mexico, about to plummet into crystal clear water. This image was awarded third place for the "Popular" category.