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Updated December 18th, 2023 at 16:22 IST

Homemade ground robots redefining warfare logistics on Ukraine’s frontlines

The emergence of DIY unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) in Ukraine and Russia addresses aerial threats, transforming battlefield logistics.

Yuvraj Tyagi
Russian troop
The emergence of DIY unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) in Ukraine and Russia addresses aerial threats, transforming battlefield logistics | Image:AP
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In the evolving landscape of modern warfare, armed aerial drones and artillery pose significant threats to troop movements on the front lines in Ukraine. In response to this challenge, experts are witnessing the emergence of crude ground robots designed to resupply soldiers while minimizing the risks associated with traditional logistics operations. 

The introduction of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) in the battlefield is seen as a strategic move to address the difficulties posed by aerial threats. Shaky footage circulated on social media, purportedly showing a Russian UGV delivering supplies to front-line troops, has garnered attention. This innovative approach aims to overcome the challenges posed by both surveillance and first-person-view drones, making traditional logistics, supply, and evacuation tasks vulnerable to discovery and attacks. 

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DIY Platforms for Logistics: Ukrainian and Russian Response 

As armed drones complicate the battlefield, Ukrainian and Russian forces are adapting by deploying "simple, DIY platforms" for logistics purposes, according to Col (Retd) Sant Pal. These makeshift ground robots offer an alternative for supplying troops, avoiding the need for soldiers to leave their positions.

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Credit- AP

The video showcasing a UGV delivering supplies and potentially evacuating a wounded soldier is believed to be recorded by Russia's 87th Rifle Regiment, operating in the industrial area south of Avdiivka, Ukraine. The UGV in question appears to be a simple, almost artisanal system, indicating that it may have been assembled on the front lines by soldiers or volunteers. Components such as suspensions, rubber tracks, and engine parts are seen being delivered directly to units in Ukraine. 

DIY Projects in Testing: Russia's Exploration of Ground Robots 

Col Sant Pal notes that similar DIY projects, both tracked and wheeled, are currently undergoing tests by Russian troops as logistics platforms. The use of off-the-shelf components and the simplicity of design suggest that soldiers or volunteers on the front lines may be assembling these platforms. 

While the specifics of the UGV's capabilities, especially in evacuating wounded soldiers, remain uncertain, analysts believe that the platform seen in the video theoretically has the potential to perform such tasks. The vehicle's design, with extensible plates on the front and rear, could accommodate a single soldier. 

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Federico Borsari, a fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, suggests that Russia's recent experiments with ground robots signal a larger trend. A variety of UGV prototypes currently in development by Russian companies underscores Moscow's recognition of the importance of this segment in shaping future military capabilities. The use of DIY platforms and the exploration of ground robots highlight a dynamic shift in military strategies amid evolving threats on the modern battlefield. 

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Published December 18th, 2023 at 00:28 IST

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