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Ball-catching drone is designed to blow your mind

This is a somewhat older video, that you may or may not have seen. We’re covering it here today, as the design of this ball-catching drone is mind-blowing. Normal drones or quadcopters, the ones that are typically flown by professionals and amateurs, have their four rotors positioned in a single plane. For the drone to move or fly in a certain direction it has to first tilt. The ball-catching drone or omnicopter works differently. It was designed by researchers Dario Brescianini and Raffaello D’Andrea from the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control (IDSC), ETH in Zurich, Switzerland. The unmanned aerial vehicle has eight rotors, positioned in four different planes and all the rotors can spin forward and backward, enabling the drone to fly in all three directions, at any velocity, and at any altitude with ease and precision.


To illustrate the novel flying maneuvres that are possible with this omnicopter, the research team has made this video in which they show how the drone can catch a thrown ball. Cameras observe the flight path of the thrown ball and then the drone quickly calculates where and how it needs to be positioned in order to catch the ball successfully. The omnidirectional eight-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle moves quickly and decisively to catch the ball time and time again. In the video description it says:

“The trajectory generator is capable of generating approximately 500’000 trajectories per second that guide the multirotor vehicle from any initial state, i.e. position, velocity and attitude, to any desired final state in a given time.”

The development of the ball-catching drone or “fetching omnicopter’ as the researchers like to call it build upon prior contributions by numerous collaborators in the Flying Machine Arena project. The research was also supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

Video of fetching omnicopter catching a ball

What do you think about this? Do you see any novel applications for this ball-catching drone? Let us know in the comments below.


Don’t forget! We are going to give away this exact DJI Spark drone to one of our readers. If you are interested, then leave a comment, or follow us and share this post on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram. We will give it away in the first week of the new year. Only people living in one of the 48 Contiguous United States will be eligible. The lucky recipient will be selected at our sole discretion.

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Avatar for Haye Kesteloo Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at DroneDJ, where he covers all drone related news and writes product reviews. He also contributes to the other sites in the 9to5Mac group such as; 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, 9to5Toys and Electrek. Haye can be reached at or @hayekesteloo