How do you make a drone that can navigate through a forest? By putting it in a cage, then letting it bump into whatever it wants.
Some UAVs may soon land on powerlines, deliver cars, and save lives, but flying through the unpredictable wreckage of a disaster area has been, until now, too dangerous for your average hexacopter.
An article in the Journal of Field Robotics describes the first tests of the GimBall, a drone that appears pretty indestructable, even during flight. The drone is designed to literally collide with objects and continue moving. To make this possible, the team trades obstacle-detecting sensors for a spherical rigid frame that can roll on and around obstacles while in flight, protect against debris, and propel it along the ground. It looks like this:
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com