A new rescue robot has been revealed by its’ designers. Named Gimball, this insect-like flying robot can collide and bounce off objects and then right itself, making it perfect for dealing with situations that would be hazardous to humans.

Gimball was designed and built by a team in Switzerland at the Ecole Polytechnique Federerale de Lausanne (EPFL). The aim is to use the robot in disaster situations such as entering burning buildings or areas affected by radiation leaks.


This flying robot moves in a way similar to a mosquito. It has a protective spherical roll-cage and is mounted on to pivots allowing it to stay upright. It is designed to survive crashes and can bounce off walls or trees.

Adrien Briod, Gimball’s co-creator explains the inspiration behind this flying robot: “Usually robots need to move around obstacles, so we thought it would be interesting to allow it to sustain collisions,” he said.

Normally a robot that encounters a collision would then be out of action but designers of Gimball decided that by allowing the robot to collide and bounce of objects, it would solve the problem of out-of-action robots.

The team wanted the robot to be able to deal with the most difficult of terrain. “Our objective was exactly that – to be able to operate where other robots can’t go, such as a building that has collapsed in an earthquake. The on-board camera can provide valuable information to emergency personnel,” Briod said.

Staying Upright

A gyroscopic system means Gimball can stay upright at all times. The system, which includes an accelerometer, is the same type of sensor that smartphones use to determine which way is up.

It is steered by fins and has two propellers, which are battery-driven. The robot is fitted with a motion sensor, camera, altimeter, magnetic compass and micro-controller processor.

At the moment Gimball can be remotely controlled but Adrien Briod wants to incorporate artificial intelligence capabilities so that it can complete tasks on its own.

[Image via Gigaom]

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24758935