Among the various calls for help on behalf of Ukraine during the Russian invasion, software company Skylum offered a way for you to donate a surveillance drone that could help safeguard Ukrainian civilians from the ravages of war.
“You can help Ukrainians to protect themselves as your drone will provide real-time pictures of the situation on the ground,” Skylum said in a blog post Thursday.
Reached for comment via email from Western Ukraine, Skylum Marketing Manager Sabina Iliasova told Cult of Mac how drone deployment will work and why it’s so crucial. She is the contact who will handle donations.
Drones for Ukraine
Bellevue, Washington-based Skylum, which makes AI-powered Luminar photo-editing software for Mac and PC, was founded as Macphun Software in Ukraine in 2009.
Skylum’s blog post — entitled “Ukraine asks for your help. We can protect civilians with drones” — emphasized the non-military use of any donated drones, intended for surveillance only.
“Donate your drone so we can ensure the safety of Ukrainian citizens,” it said. “Your drone will remain unarmed and will be used for surveillance purposes only.”
The post described the drones’ purpose this way:
You can help Ukrainians to protect themselves as your drone will provide real-time pictures of the situation on the ground. Our defenders can act faster and more decisively with the help of drones and provide better security to civilians with prior warnings about imminent danger. Your drone will be saving lives!
As the Associated Press reported on Friday, the Ukrainian military is also calling for hobby drones.
Deployment through a network of volunteers
Iliasova told Cult of Mac that a network of volunteers will work on the logistics of deploying drones donated through Skylum.
“Our army forces and home guards will receive the drones and will operate them,” she wrote, from a bomb shelter. “We have a dire situation in several of our major cities where civilians got blocked and denied any humanitarian aid like food supply. Right now our government is trying to negotiate the creation of ‘green corridors’ — clear passage for civilians, but from 2014 I know that even if negotiations are successful and the clear passage is granted safety is not guaranteed.”
She referred to “Volnovaha tragedy” in 2015, saying Russian troops shot at a bus full of civilians. She made note of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s Donbas region in 2014 as the first time Ukraine gained experience using drones like they intend to do this time.
“One more case is to use drones to locate special marks left by Russian saboteurs with luminescent paint to mark up places of shelling,” she said. “It’s usually rooftops or balconies of residential buildings, important intersections, etc — this is done by our home defense troops, and even the smallest drones can be successfully used for this task.”
Drones you can donate (plus next steps)
Skylum’s blog post indicates the following drones are needed:
- DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
- DJI Dron Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual
- Autel Evo 2
- DJI Air 2S
- DJI Mavic Air 2
- DJI Mavic 2 Pro
- DJI Mini
After that, the post provided a contact for more information regarding donations, including where to ship the hardware.
“To get further information please contact Sabina Iliasova from Skylum Team at firstname.lastname@example.org,” the post said. “She will provide you with further support and information about the delivery address.”
Iliasova confirmed she’s standing by, ready to interact with donors.
“The life of its people is the biggest value that Ukraine has,” Iliasova said. “Machines are man-made things and worth nothing compared to human life, no matter the cost of a mechanism. If drones would allow even one person to return back home alive I’m ready to endure sleepless nights to find even one more.”