Slow down Joe Rogin, humanitarian drones in Ukraine

I pull news from Twitter again, this time Washington Post journalist @JoshRogin has suggested using delivery drones to send help to besieged civilians in Ukraine.

On the face of it, a good idea, but very sadly the technology he believes is there is just not.

Why am I writing this having mowed the lawn on a Saturday morning, well it’s to put a flag in the ground to remind me when and why all the renders of drones with white crosses and bombed towns in the background started showing up.

If folks with a big voice say something, this is what happens and VC money flows.

I suspect this is already behind some newspaper posts just about to be posted suggesting technology XYZ be sent in right now. Journalists given the nudge from press releases hastily written by startups.

A little like the #BattleofGatwick where a company that did not have any equipment in the UK at the time played it like they saved the day and multiple outlets featured their product! Well done them, never let the truth as they say.

In the Twitter thread which I will let you find, Joe points to successful civilian drone deliveries in Syria something that just didn’t happen.

Right now in the active war there is nothing that has the range required.

Once the ceasefire has occurred and normality, such as is can be is restored there might be a case for shorter range delivery of critical medical supplies.

Without hesitation, I know the companies I would be calling right now to start planning post-war humanitarian operations. All of them actually doing the job in other parts of the world. Between them, they have tens of years of experience and thousands of flight hours.

So in reverse alphabetical order, in the interest of nothing but fairness.

Zipline

Founded in 2014 by Keller Rinaudo, Keenan Wyrobek and William Hetzler Zipline is successfully flying one-way services around the world. Their packages are dropped by parachute and the aircraft returns to its launch area to be turned around for the next job. I initially thought this was a crazy concept, but I have been shown to be utterly wrong. They need an infrastructure build and flight planning so would not arrive in a C130 and go. But once setup the nature of operation makes their drones a powerful repeatable delivery system.

Wingcopter

Wingcopter GmbH was founded in 2017 by Jonathan Hesselbarth, Tom Plümmer, and Ansgar Kadura in Germany. Their electric vertical take-off and landing platform moved into the spotlight after a trial with DHL in Tanzania on Lake Victoria, flying from Mwanza to islands on the lake.

Swoop Aero

Swoop Aero was founded in 2017 by Eric Peck and Joshua Tepper, in Melbourne, Australia. Eric is a former Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules driver. So they know delivery and they know tight spots. Again they are flying platforms right now around the world.

So that’s a one-way system and two systems capable of dropping and returning cargo.

Now another one-way, this time a glider.

Silent Arrow

Silent Arrow® is a DBA of Yates Electrospace Corporation, founded in 2012 by electric aviation pioneer Chip Yates, to produce the Silent Arrow® and AVIUS Air Delivery™

A glider with folding wings slides out of a C-130 or is dropped by helicopter. Silent Arrow has already had operational deployments. The glider lands at a GPS location sent to the operator carrying with it 1000lbs of supplies.

I wouldn’t just call these folks because I have spoken with them, I would call because they have shown systems that really work. Not just renders of what might be.

I hope that peace comes quickly to Ukraine and expect that with that peace countries from around the world would surge cargo aircraft and helicopters to theatre.

It would be well in hand before civilian drone delivery companies could deploy.

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