Gimball takes off in the Middle East

© 2013 Alain Herzog

© 2013 Alain Herzog

EPFL spin-off Flyability was awarded one million dollars for its Gimball drone, whose applications for rescue missions won over the jury of a competition in the United Arab Emirates.

The aircraft developed by the start-up Flyability conquered the jury of “Drones for Good.” Capable of entering tight spaces and flying safely near humans, it won the competition launched by the government of the United Arab Emirates. The competition recognizes social applications of new technologies with an award of one million dollars. Before a panel of international judges, forty finalists in three categories presented their projects that use new technologies for social purposes.

Inspired by insects, the flying machine is not afraid of collisions. Instead, it bounces off of obstacles thanks to a small spherical cage that surrounds it. “The idea is that the body of the robot remains in equilibrium after a collision, so that it can maintain its trajectory,” explains the start-up CTO Adrien Briod in previous article on the EPFL website. “It can be sent to hard-to-reach locations during a disaster, for example to film the environment with its onboard camera and provide valuable information to rescuers.” Based in EPFL’s Innovation Park, Flyability was founded in 2014 as a spin-off of the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems and the NCCR Robotics.

According to company CEO Patrick Thévoz, the prize, which was awarded in the presence of the Ruler of Dubai, will enable the drone to clear a path towards commercialization. Flyability has passed the first two stages of Venture Kick, a funding program for promising entrepreneurs, and is vying for the 130,000 francs promised in the final round.

Various articles have appeared in the press of the United Arab Emirates, including: