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World Drone Corporations Saving Lives in Ukraine


On Memorial Day, we pay tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. This year, we also pay homage to some of the global commercial drone companies who continue to contribute in meaningful ways to keep Ukrainian soldiers, volunteers and civilians alive. To all, we salute you!

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Global Drone Companies Are Saving Lives in Ukraine

 By: Dawn Zoldi (Colonel, USAF Ret.)

As countries seemingly stood by and debated what to do for Ukraine, the global commercial drone industry stepped up. In an unprecedented grassroots effort, global commercial drone manufacturers have worked directly with NATO, Ukrainian defense officials or nonprofits to put commercial off the shelf (COTS) and do-it-yourself hobby drones in the hands of Ukrainian military and volunteer forces. In many cases, they also provided in-person training. These companies have ultimately helped to save lives. This article highlights some of these impactful contributions.

Red Cat Holdings Inc./Rotor Riot

drone companies Ukraine

Chad Kapper, Brand Manager for Red Cat Holdings Inc., which wholly owns subsidiary Rotor Riot, holding a FPV hobby drone he brought with him to Poland and donated to Ukrainian forces.

In the early days of the conflict, Rotor Riot provided 10 free-style drones to a Ukrainian civilian drone hobby group supporting the countrys military. A wholly owned subsidiary of Red Cat Holdings Inc., the Orlando-Florida, based company sells premier high performance first-person view (FPV) drone products and parts.

 According to Chad Kapper, Brand Manager for Red Cat, the hobby group his company is assisting helped divert a column of Russian tanks with their small toy drones. The group has since been training the Ukrainian military.

 Kapper said, Ukraine is using everything they can get their hands on.” The Rotor Riot FPV drones, which do not rely on trackable GPS, provide a cheap, fast, nimble and more secure option for the Ukrainians.

 Kapper recently delivered the drones in person, in Poland. He learned Ukrainian forces use these drones for everything from forward observation and adjusting fires to delivering grenades.

 Im amazed at the unprecedented contributions of commercial and hobby drones, the way these drones are being used and the number of civilians over here jumping into the fray,” Kapper noted. Its tremendously inspirational.” 

Skydio

Volunteer Ukraine Ground Forces attend training on the Skydio drone system. Location: Ukraine

Another early mover, Skydio, a Redwood City, California-headquartered American manufacturer of autonomous drones, and one of the few on the Department of Defenses (DoD) approved list of cyber-secure Blue” drones, initially donated $300K worth of technology and training to the Ukranians, outside of DoD channels.

 More than half of Skydios federal team are military veterans, many with extensive experience using drones in combat. To aid its Ukrainian partners, Skydio sent a team of employees with tactical operational experience using drones to Poland in order to provide training and enablement. The company also translated operational manuals and training materials into Ukrainian.

 Since its initial contributions, the company has sold hundreds of its drones to NGOs supporting Ukraine. It continues to actively respond to additional opportunities.

 According to a Skydio spokesperson, We build our drones in the United States and have a team dedicated to fulfilling every Ukrainian order as quickly as possible. We give orders supporting frontline operations in Ukraine first priority for production and fulfillment.”

 BRINC

BRINC founder Blake Resnick talks Ukrainian first responders through the controls of the LEMUR drone in Poland.

 Like Skydio and Rotor Riot, BRINC drones also donated drones and traveled to Poland to provide training. BRINC builds resilient 3-D printed systems in the service of public safety. Its drones played a pivotal role in helping to find survivors and assess the structural integrity of buildings in the wake of the Surfside condominium collapse in Miami, Florida in June 2021. Its worldwide reputation for non-GPS reliant and communications-secure drones, used by SWAT teams worldwide, led Ukrainian contacts to reach out to Las Vegas, Nevada-based start up for help.

 In an extraordinary gesture, the company bought its own drones back from its distributors, out of pocket, to rapidly move the equipment to the front lines. BRINC CEO Blake Resnick, a 21-year old multi-millionaire phenom, traveled overseas personally. He explained, We felt passionately that we wanted to give the Ukrainian people the equipment they needed, even without getting paid.”

 BRINC made the initial donation of hardware to Ukraine emergency services. Thats how it started,” noted Resnick. But once other elements in the Ukrainian military heard about it, they asked for more.” The company ultimately donated additional assets totaling $150K.

 Friendly NATO countries, including the Netherlands, have since contacted BRINC to purchase dozens of drones, in support of Ukraine. Resnick informed he plans to provide yet another tranche of drones in the near future.

Quantum-Systems GmBH

Ukrainian forces pictured here with Quantum-Systems’ fixed-wing-to-tri copter configured Vector eVTOL drone.

 Besides the Dutch, other NATO countries have pitched in. Quantum-Systems GmBHbased in Munich, Germany, originally donated a few of its fixed-wing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) Trinity mapping systems to Ukraine.

 Dave Sharpin, a U.S. Air Force veteran and CEO of the companys U.S.-based subsidiary, Quantum-Systems Inc., explained that Ukrainian forces employ the Trinity for mapping-related missions, such as evidence collection and battle damage assessment.

 Ex-Bundeswehr soldier and aviator Florian Seibel, who founded the drone startup in 2015, noted the company is now shipping its Vector, fixed-wing-to-tri copter configured eVTOL drone as well.

 Seibel said, Our involvement in supporting Ukraine has led to significant order intake in the last weeks and months. Top league, U.S. based investors now see significant growth potential in Europe in the next decade. With this backing and a very strong international sales pipeline we are now ready to become the next Defence Player to watch out for. In the meantime, we stand with Ukraine.”

 Draganfly Inc.

Draganfly Inc.’s Medical Response Drone flys blood and other critical medical supplies to the front lines.

 The Canadian commercial drone industry has also made an indelible mark in the Ukraine conflict. Draganfly Inc., a publicly traded award-winning, industry-leading drone solutions and systems developer from Saskatoon, partnered with Coldchain Delivery Systems Inc. to deliver its Medical Response Drones, and related training, to Revived Soldiers Ukraine (RSU”) in May.

 The Medical Response Drone, which holds up to 35 lbs and features a proprietary temperature-managed Medical Response Payload Box, transports temperature-sensitive medical supplies to the wars wounded in dangerous and hard-to-reach areas. The company announced additional orders of its Search and Rescue Drones will also support Ukraines efforts.

 The crisis across Ukraine continues to create challenging conditions for emergency crews trying to provide aid to those in need. Our Medical Response Drone and Search and Rescue Drone solutions will help RSU effectively access hotspots and deliver crucial medical supplies and equipment to affected Ukrainians,” said Cameron Chell, President and CEO of Draganfly.

Volatus Aerospace

Volatus Aerospace has provided Ukrainian forces with weather-resistant thermal imagery drones.

 Volatus Aerospace, a new publicly listed drone technology and aircraft management company based in Ontario with operations in Canada, the U.S., Latin America, and the United Kingdom, initially sent 30 thermal drones to Ukraine. It recently partnered with Aerovel to provide its Flexrotor tactical Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) drone, to the country.

 Our team is in regular contact with Ukrainian defenders on the frontline. Aerorozvidka leadership tells us that the small drones are becoming less effective because of their low altitude and short endurance combined with Russian jamming. Ukraine needs dynamic situational awareness and accurate targeting,” said Glen Lynch, Volatus CEO. The Aerovel Flexrotor is capable of altitudes of up to 6.5 km, airspeeds of up to 170 kph and staying aloft for up to 30 hours, making it the ideal solution.”

Commercial and hobby drones and their leaders have made a difference in the Russia-Ukraine conflict in unparalleled ways. Commercial drones have helped in the defense of Ukraines sovereignty. They have saved lives. They will continue to do so across battlefields in Ukraine and future conflicts for the foreseeable future.

Read more about drones in the Ukraine:

Red Cat Holdings [NASDAQ:RCAT] and Draganfly [NASDAQ:DPRO] are holdings in the AdvisorShares Drone Technology ETF [NYSE ARCA:UAV], the only ETF dedicated to the drone economy. The AdvisorShares Drone Technology ETF is a thematic investment strategy seeking to capture the growth opportunities in drones and autonomous vehicles (AV).  AdvisorShares is a DRONELIFE sponsor.

Dawn M.K. Zoldi (Colonel, USAF, Retired) is a licensed attorney with 28 years of combined active duty military and federal civil service to the Department of the Air Force. She is an intIernationally recognized expert on unmanned aircraft system law and policy, a columnist for several magazines,recipient of the Woman to Watch in UAS (Leadership) Award 2019, President and CEO of UAS Colorado and the CEO of P3 Tech Consulting LLC. For more information, visit her website at: https://www.p3techconsulting.com.



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