Many people here, especially big Tesla fans, know either what an FPV drone is, or have seen footage from one. After the video from Tesla Germany, it’s hard to not be impressed.
While this isn’t lifesaving or doing anything amazing like some of our other stories on electric aviation, it’s still highly impressive. As a drone pilot who mainly does photography, it’s seriously impressive what FPV drones and their pilots are capable of. Between pilot skill and experience and the drones’ anti-collision technology (and propeller guards for when you do hit things), the moves these drones can make are nothing short of epic.
But, Ukrainian soldiers have found a way to use the technology in a way most of us didn’t predict.
Ukrainian Drones, & Why They Use Them
If you’ve been following the war in Ukraine, you’ve probably seen the innovative ways they’re using civilian drones for a serious impact on Russian troops. For example, they’ve been using them as forward observers to guide artillery fire and walk it into the target.
They’ve also been used to deliver grenades directly to Russian positions, often the tops of tanks where they’re the weakest. In one particularly daring case, they managed to drop a grenade right into an open hatch to make quick work of a tank that grenades shouldn’t seriously damage.
#Ukraine: Finally a first loss of a Russian T-62M tank in the South.
How? A RGD-5 grenade in a special fish bait bomb was dropped right in a hatch from a Ukrainian drone. pic.twitter.com/4oNf4MBcRt
— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) July 6, 2022
The advantage to drones (and the primary reason we’ve seen them used like this) is that they don’t have to put any soldiers in harms way to accomplish these attacks. The drone can get right in close to the action, and no matter how badly the drone takes a hit, nothing will happen to its operator or the people depending on the information from it.
The other thing that’s great about civilian drones for these kinds of missions is that they’re cheap. If they cost millions of dollars each, Ukraine wouldn’t be able to afford to lose them. Taking only minor losses whenever the Russians manage to hit one of the small craft makes it affordable to not only fly them, but to lose them over and over.
Now, They’re Using FPV Drones
#Ukraine: The 93rd Brigade of Ukraine showed the use of a very interesting cheap commercial drone converted to kamikaze role. Such drones carry a very small payload and are used mostly against personnel.
Note that the operator is receiving video output via special FPV goggles. pic.twitter.com/j06zU6nZk4
— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) July 29, 2022
Sending an FPV drone in with a plan to lose it might not seem like a wise strategy, but that’s only if you’re not familiar with the danger of approaching a building with people inside who want to kill you. Even if you manage to get inside, you then have to clear every room and every place people inside might hide from you. What we’re basically looking at here is a task that almost 400 Texas cops recently shied away from for over an hour.
In other words, it’s dangerous work that nobody wants, and now Ukraine’s troops found a way to avoid the task in much the same way Dallas police did a few years ago. In that case, a bomb squad robot was used to kill a man who had been hunting police and was now cornered in a place he couldn’t be removed from without incurring more deaths to law enforcement. Even then, it was a controversial move.
The advantage Ukraine’s troops have over police is that there’s no question of whether you’re allowed to use the robot to kill. War, especially when it’s over your homeland, runs by a very different set of rules.
Either way, this use of drones won’t save any Russian lives, but it does save the lives of Ukrainians and weakens the enemy without putting their own people in harm’s way. It’s an ugly fight, but it’s not something they can run away from.
Featured image: a screenshot from the FPV drone’s onboard camera as it approaches the door of the building Russian soldiers are hiding in.
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
Don’t want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.