Inspired by insect flight, Swiss scientists from the Ecole Polytechnique Federerale de Lausanne (EPFL) created a flying rescue robot called Gimball that is resistant to crashes thanks to a protective spherical roll-cage. The robot can safely bump into obstacles while being piloted remotely through disaster areas, such as burning forests.
Typically, search and rescue robots are put out of commission by major collisions, says co-creator Adrien Briod. Thanks to Gimball's rotating flexible frame, it can return from chaotic environments with its pieces intact—which include a motion sensor, a camera, an altimeter, a magnetic compass, and a micro-controller processor.
The drone is remotely controlled, but Briod told BBC News that the the EPFL aims to incorporate artificial intelligence capabilities into Gimball so it can perform complex tasks by itself.