Drones Modified For Medical Supply Drops in Ukraine
ARLINGTON, Virginia — A company specializing in unmanned aerial vehicles has modified a drone to deliver vital medical supplies to Ukrainian civilians in hard-to-reach areas.
Draganfly, a Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company, which has manufactured drones for the military and government sectors for more than two decades, recently partnered with the U.S. nonprofit Revived Soldiers Ukraine to provide a fleet of their UAVs for humanitarian efforts.
The company initially donated three drones in March, but Revived Soldiers Ukraine purchased an additional 10 aircraft, with the expectation that Draganfly “will deliver up to a couple hundred drones” by the end of the year, said Draganfly CEO Cameron Chell.
The medical response drones can carry up to 35 pounds of supplies in a temperature-managed box, a Draganfly press release said. The average drone conducts five missions per day and has a range of 12.4 miles, Chell added.
One of the challenges Draganfly and its partners in Ukraine are facing is that civilians don’t always know whether they can trust that a drone is friendly, he said.
“What we found quite quickly over there is that if you put a drone on the ground, people are not all that excited to come out and meet the drone and take something off of them,” he said.
In response, Draganfly added a “quick release mechanism” to the UAVs, Chell said.
“The drone flies in the area, it hovers for about two seconds about two feet off the ground, it drops the box, and then gets out of there,” he explained. This allows for civilians on the ground to assess the package and ensure it is safe while limiting the risk of the drone being shot down, he added.
The company has also deployed three reconnaissance drones in Ukraine and is actively developing a group of demining drones it hopes to deploy later this year.
Their performance in Ukraine is being noticed, and they’re in high demand, said Chell. “We have interest from all over the world, and we're doing our best just to keep up with the inquiries … and the orders.” There are now multiple agencies now looking to deploy Draganfly drones, he added.