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
In the early days of the conflict, Rotor Riot provided 10 free-style drones to a Ukrainian civilian drone hobby group supporting the country’s military. A wholly owned subsidiary of , 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.
“I’m 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. “It’s tremendously inspirational.”
Another early mover, , a Redwood City, California-headquartered American manufacturer of autonomous drones, and one of the few on the Department of Defense’s (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 Skydio’s 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.”
Like Skydio and Rotor Riot,
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.
based in Munich, Germany, originally donated a few of its fixed-wing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) Trinity mapping systems to Ukraine.
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.
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.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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