Robots, AI, EW: How War in Ukraine Re-Shapes Military Tech

2 Jul 2024

Did you know that technologies such as GPS, now indispensable in civilian life, were initially developed by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for military purposes? Similarly, laser tag originated from military laser simulators used for training.

From the very outset of the war, technology has played a pivotal role in enabling the Ukrainian Armed forces to resist the Russian onslaught. Apps providing real-time battlefield insights, robust cyber defenses safeguarding critical infrastructure, and the adaptation of civilian drones for military purposes are just a few examples of the technological ingenuity that has become the hallmark of Ukraine's defense tech industry.

Wars often begin when one side underestimates the other, believing in a quick victory. Building a solid defense industry is the most effective way for Ukraine to counter Russia's constant threat.

The full-scale war has unveiled Ukraine as an innovation hub in the defense tech sector. Hundreds of Ukrainian companies are developing technological solutions that enhance the country's defensive capabilities, save the lives of soldiers and civilians, and fortify the nation's resilience from the first day of invasion.

BRAVE1: Fostering Collaboration and Accelerating Innovation

Recognizing the crucial role of technology in ensuring Ukraine's victory, the government established BRAVE1 – a unique, one-of-a-kind platform for collaboration among defense tech companies, startups, the government, the armed forces, and investors. This coordinated effort has streamlined the identification and development of cutting-edge technological solutions for the security and defense sector.

According to Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine's Minister of Digital Transformation, Ukraine must become a country that quickly develops, learns and actively uses technology, especially in the military sphere. The creation of BRAVE1 is a significant step in this direction. Its goal is to build a system for the swift launch of military tech projects, make bold decisions, and create the best conditions for companies building such solutions.

Any individual, startup, or company, both national and international, can present their idea or product to BRAVE1 and potentially receive a state grant. Defense tech companies benefit from organizational and expert guidance, access to accelerators and incubators, systemic development of their products, business scaling knowledge, value addition for investors, and mentorship.

BRAVE1 focuses on five main areas:

  • Financial Support: Providing grants to developers meeting the needs of security and defense forces.
  • Solution Sourcing: Helping security and defense forces find effective technological solutions from Ukrainian developers.
  • Collaboration Platform: Creating a platform that unites all stakeholders in the industry.
  • Development and Feedback: Facilitating interaction and feedback between developers and defense forces.
  • Project Acceleration: Offering comprehensive support to promising projects.

In less than a year, BRAVE1 received over 1,000 innovative defense tech project submissions, with 481 deemed priority by Ukrainian military experts.

Key Achievements in Defense Tech Robotics

BRAVE1 prioritizes the development of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). These systems aim to minimize human involvement on the battlefield by replacing it with robotic complexes. Over 60 Ukrainian developers have registered over 200 solutions on the BRAVE1 platform, including UGVs for enemy engagement, reconnaissance, demining, cargo transportation, and evacuation of wounded defenders.

Over 50 UGVs have undergone testing; 15 developments, including combat and logistical modules and demining robots, have been codified according to NATO standards.

By the end of 2024, the use of robots is expected to become a systemic part of military actions.

Some notable defense tech robots codified according to NATO standards

Logistics Robot Volya-E

Volya-E. Image courtesy of BRAVE1

• Purpose: Evacuation of wounded soldiers and delivery of ammunition to the front line.

• Advantages: High maneuverability, ability to carry loads up to 150 kg, remote control up to 3 km, speed up to 12 km/h, compactness, easy maintenance and repair.

• Military Feedback: Over 100 wounded and fallen soldiers have been evacuated thanks to Volya-E.

Robot-Kamikaze ARK-1

Kamikaze ARK-1. Image courtesy of BRAVE1

• Purpose: Attack on enemy equipment and fortifications.

• Advantages: Control up to 20 km, speed up to 45 km/h, all-wheel drive, obstacle negotiation, delivery of light ammunition, medical supplies, and provisions.

• Military Feedback: Actively used in planning and executing missions.

Combat Robot Lyut

Lyut 2. Image courtesy of BRAVE1

• Purpose: Mobile firing point, stationing at positions, and conducting assault operations.

• Advantages: Equipped with a tank machine gun, 360-degree view camera, high-quality armor, and good maneuverability.

• Military Feedback: Effective in combat conditions, with high communication quality, accurate targeting, and day/night automatic fire capabilities.

Multifunctional Robot Vepr (KNLR-E)

Robot Vepr (KNLR-E). Image courtesy of BRAVE1

• Purpose: Evacuation of wounded soldiers, delivery of supplies, remote mining and demining, and sniper training.

• Advantages: Fully armored, GPS navigation, integration with military command systems, scalable production, and easy operator training.

• Military Feedback: Over 30 robots have been in operation for over a year, proving highly effective.

Advancements in Electronic Warfare (EW)

BRAVE1 has also made significant strides in electronic warfare (EW) since June 2023. Initially, there were only about 10 EW technological solutions in Ukraine that couldn't meet the needs of security and defense forces. Since then, over 100 solutions have been registered, with nine codified according to NATO standards. Over 50 companies now operate in the EW field, addressing the growing need for protection against enemy drones.

EW close-range defense systems, including backpacks, anti-drone rifles, and portable protection systems, are prioritized to shield military personnel, equipment, and positions from enemy drones.

AI/ML Usage Is On the Rise

Ukrainian developers have registered over 1,600 developments across 12 verticals on the Brave1 platform, with more than 200 employing AI/ML methods—these range from concepts to near-ready solutions.

One in eight submitted projects on the Brave1 platform involves the use of AI.

The most prioritized areas in this field are:

• Data Analysis: Analyzing photos and videos collected by drones on the battlefield.

• AI Integration: Integrating AI into various weapon systems, particularly strike drones.

Notable AI-driven projects submitted to Brave1

• Data Handling Platforms: Systems for collecting, processing, synthesizing, and transmitting different data types, enabling military personnel to access crucial information in seconds.

• Disinformation Tracking: AI tools for tracking misinformation flows.

• Remote Mine Detection: AI applications for remotely searching for mines and unexploded ordnance in mined areas.

• Automated Targeting: Solutions for automatic UAV targeting and self-navigation technology for reconnaissance drones.

Among the promising directions for AI application is its use in ground robotic systems. AI’s most active application is in UAVs, offering several key advantages:

• Resilience to EW Attacks: AI drones do not rely on radio communication with operators, which can be jammed by enemy electronic warfare.

• Enhanced Target Identification: AI can automatically and more accurately identify battlefield targets, including those invisible to the human eye. For instance, AI can classify ships and submarines from radar satellite images.

• Swarming Capability: AI can coordinate drones to perform collective missions, where drones independently synchronize and exchange information.


Ukraine's defense tech industry exemplifies the country's resilience, ingenuity, and forward-thinking approach to adversity. By harnessing cutting-edge technologies and fostering a collaborative environment through initiatives like BRAVE1, Ukraine is strengthening its defense capabilities and laying the groundwork for future economic recovery and growth.

The integration of AI, the development of advanced robotics, and the enhancement of electronic warfare capabilities demonstrate a bold vision for the future. These innovations are transforming the battlefield and have the potential to revolutionize multiple civilian sectors, showcasing Ukraine as a leader in technological advancement.

As the world watches, Ukraine continues to push the boundaries of what is possible, turning challenges into opportunities and ensuring that technology remains at the heart of its strategy for victory and beyond. The strides in defense tech today will undoubtedly shape a more secure and prosperous tomorrow for Ukraine and the world.

Supporting Ukraine and the Future of Defense Tech

The fundraising platform UNITED24 is currently raising funds across defense, humanitarian demining, medical aid, Ukraine’s rebuilding and education. Would you like to contribute to Ukraine’s victory? Please feel free to donate here to support the Ukrainian Army and ensure the rapid development and adoption of innovative defense technologies.

Do you have a ready defense tech solution or an idea to contribute to Brave1? Submit it here.