In a family workshop, displaced Ukrainians create remote-controlled stretchers

KYIV REGION (Ukraine) (Reuters) – Yelisei mamonov, a Ukrainian teenager, dreams of one day attending the country’s best technical university.

He is currently gaining experience in a family workshop that makes remote-controlled stretchers for the rescue of wounded soldiers as Russia’s occupation continues and Kyiv looks to find more innovative solutions on the battlefield.

The 14-year old has used dozens of these devices while working under his father Dmytro (52), a former manager of a factory, and with his sister Yesenia (10 years old).

We need to scale up. Mamonov explained that he wanted as many prototypes as possible at the forefront, so every unit and company could have one.

Mamonovs left Sloviansk in the east after the February 2022 attack by Moscow and established a production facility in central Ukraine. They were far away from the cluster bombs that had once been hurled at their home.

During a recent workshop visit by Reuters, the company displayed two models, a lightweight foldable stretcher, and a more heavy-duty tracked vehicle called a TerMIT.

The space was filled with the sound of metal clanging and sparks. Electronic and mechanical parts were scattered about.

Yesenia, who has now learned how to connect electrical components, re-adjusted the wheels of the smaller model. It costs around $1,900 to manufacture. Production costs for the TerMIT are approximately $5,200.

Oksana 41, a mother and wife, was also drawn into the Tank Bureau project to take orders from front-line soldiers.

She dismisses criticism from her family and others who claim that she is denying her children a normal childhood.

I think they will be grateful when they are older because they have more skills.

Top Ukrainian officials acknowledge the need to increase domestic production. Drones, among other hi-tech devices, are increasingly playing a pivotal role in war.

The Mamonovs have been supported by a Ukrainian government-run accelerator for defence technology. Dmytro Mamonov’s vision of a battlefield with robotics as common as first aid kits may require more than just funding.

He said: “That means mass-production, and that means we need to have a plan.” “But to achieve this, we will need a radical step forward.”

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