Ukrainian soldier Oleksandr Navarenko, inspired by the heavy tank fire he experienced last summer, has developed two prototypes of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). The first version deployed anti-tank mines, while the second version is able to approach enemy positions and shoot rocket-propelled grenades. Although still in the development stage, these UGVs have the potential to be valuable assets on the battlefield.
While the West has provided some UGVs to Ukraine, it is not enough to make a noticeable difference. To address this issue, Ukrainian tech companies are also testing UGV designs. The Digital Transformation Ministry is actively working to convince the military to adopt these innovations quickly.
Drones have already proven to be successful in Ukraine’s war efforts, with 62 models currently being used on the front lines. The development of UGVs still has a long way to go, but inventors from both Ukraine and Russia have launched several self-initiated projects. These UGVs could potentially be game-changers if they prove to be effective on the battlefield.
One Ukrainian defense company, SkyLab, has emerged as a startup in the wake of the war. Co-founded by Yevhen Rvachov, SkyLab initially focused on developing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). However, Rvachov recognized the need for ground logistics systems and created the Sirko-S and Sirko-S1 robots, remote-controlled cars capable of carrying weapons and equipment. The Sirko-S1 is the latest model, featuring a more stable platform and night-vision cameras.
UGVs, like drones, have their vulnerabilities. Samuel Bendett, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, suggests that a single-use “kamikaze” type of UGV may be more effective in exposing enemy positions. Nevertheless, innovators like Rvachov are eager to navigate the bureaucratic process with the Defense Ministry so that their UGVs can be utilized on the front line.
The Ukrainian government has also launched the Brave1 platform to encourage innovators to submit defense tech projects. This platform offers support and funding for initiatives that can help the military.