Draganfly drones neutralizing mines – not dropping explosives – in Ukraine

Draganfly test drone

Much attention has been directed to the remarkable success of Ukraine forces repurposing commercial and enterprise UAVs to attack incomparably better-armed Russian troops invading the nation. Yet elsewhere in Ukraine, drones are providing critical work for humanitarian and other non-combat operations as well, including craft Canadian company Draganfly is supplying to detect the rising number of Russian-laid landmines.

Draganfly CEO Cameron Chell recently led a team from the company to oversee delivery and training of drones for humanitarian work, and to detect and clear areas booby-trapped with Russian mines. The company is working with Coldchain Delivery Systems to supply medical cargo UAVs to aid group Revived Soldiers Ukraine (RSU), and adapted aerial detection tech to demining specialists.

The dual-purpose drone campaign seeks to increase the speed and effectiveness of getting medical supplies and other assistance to victims of the war’s violence, and prevent more people from being injured or killed by the growing numbers of Russian landmines or unexploded munitions scattered across Ukraine. Chell, who directed instruction and testing of two sensor-laden UAVs Draganfly is supplying to demining technicians, says use of aerial assets can accelerate the detection process by nearly 40% – and reduce risk to personnel involved.

“This technology is all about saving time, lives, and money, and it does that by speeding up the demining process,” Chell said while in Ukraine this month. “And (it) gives deminers a map ahead of time of the potential hostile objects in front of them.”

Read moreCanadian Draganfly drones to deliver medical supplies in war-torn Ukraine 

Though reconfiguration and use of consumer drones by Ukraine fighters to drop grenades on Russian invaders has understandably gained more attention (it is a war Moscow unilaterally launched, after all), deployment of UAVs by organizations like Draganfly and RSU to prevent mine explosions and care for victims of violence is also widespread. 

The company began supplying heavy-lift emergency medical service (EMS) drones to RSU last spring. It continues increasing delivery of those and other vehicles to quickly transport critical supplies and water to Ukraine citizens targeted by Russian offensives. 

In mid-June, it provided RSU with two AeroVironment Quantrix Mapper UAVs to deliver detailed situational awareness information to aid workers hoping to reach victims stranded in conflict areas. In addition to those drones and other models used by technicians to detect and clear Russian minefields, Chell says Draganfly will equip Ukraine with a great deal more craft in coming months.

“As we speak, there are another 10 drones on their way here, and by the time it’s all said and done, we think we will have fulfilled an order of upwards of 200 drones,” Chell said. “We’re going to keep sending situational assessment drones, search and rescue drones, along with EMS drones already here in operation until this conflict is over in Ukraine.”

Draganfly’s work providing Ukraine humanitarian and mine-clearing specialists drones to deal with continued Russian assaults is taking place within the DroneAid: Ukraine project, which is underwritten by Calagary Strategic Group CEO Riaz Mamdani. The most recent phase in that involved testing of a medium-lift drone dangling a magnometer over a trial area, and a Draganfly Commander 2 UAV using a hyper spectral camera to detect and map it. 

Read: AeroVironment donates 100+ Quantrix Recon drones to Ukraine 

With Chell calling Ukraine the most mined country in the world today – riddled with not only with explosives buried by Russian troops, but also strewn with undetonated ordinance – delivery and use of Draganfly drones to address those threats has become urgent. 

Back in May, Ukraine officials said over 80,000 devices had already been unearthed and defused. Those have likely been more than offset by new mines laid since, as well as unexploded bombs in Ukraine cities and farmlands that Russia has targeted to destroy the nation’s grain harvests.

Chell estimates it would take 20 years to clear all those Russian mines from Ukraine were the war to end immediately, with 30 extra days added for every 24 hours the conflict continues – all the more reason why Draganfly is increasing its drone assistance in the crisis. Not only will that tech speed and improve response to Russian aggression, but will do so without posing risk to humans involved.

 “Even if they manage to shoot them down, the resources needed to do that would greatly eclipse the value of the drone,” Chell says of eventual Russian targeting of high-flying, fast-moving humanitarian UAVs. “So there’s an upside even to these drones being destroyed.”

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