Video: Flying Sphere-Shaped Drone Wows Crowds in Tokyo

Japan's Spherical Drone

We got our first look at Japan's Defense Ministry's spherical flying machine earlier this year, but at a recent technology expo in Tokyo the hovering ball got the full coming-out treatment, complete with public demos eliciting "ooohs" and "aaaahs." The video below shows the drone doing everything it was designed to do: zipping around omnidirectionally, rolling across the floor, and staying aloft even when it strikes--or is struck by--an obstacle.

Perhaps most impressive: the thing is built with off-the-shelf parts and costs a ridiculously lean $1,400. For that you get airborne speeds topping out at nearly 40 miles per hour and stability backed up by three on-board gyros that keep the thing aloft even when it runs into objects. Not bad bang for your buck.

The Japanese Defense Ministry envisions the drone going into service as a search and rescue tool and an intelligence and reconnaissance drone. See recon a room full of journos and expo attendees below, via DigInfo TV.