Troops fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine are being equipped with 3D-printed aerial drones. The AEVs, which are being paid for by volunteers, are currently being used at the front.
Mercifully, a ceasefire is scheduled to take effect at midnight tomorrow (14 February). It's not known, however, if and how long it will last. Last year, a ceasefire collapsed amid renewed fighting. And in the hours before the new ceasefire takes effect, Russian-backed forces have mounted a major, sustained offensive to grab as much territory as possible.
To support its troops, a robotics lab at the Step IT Academy in Kyiv has been producing plastic drones using 3D printers. To date, the lab has produced and deployed 30 drones to the front.
The drones, which capture images from a maximum distance of 2.5 kilometers (1.55 miles) and can stay airborne for 20 minutes, cost about $1,200 to print (the lab goes through 20 kg (44 lbs) of plastic each day). Additional components cost another $3,000. At a total of $4,200 each, they're far more affordable than the $30,000 price tag of advanced drones.
Step IT Academy's Dmytro Franchuk has even visited the front to teach the soldiers how to use the devices.
Lab head Ivan Dovgal told Kyiv Post that the government has not ordered mass production of his drones, blaming bureaucracy and lack of cash in the budget.
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Image: Kyiv Post/Anastasia Viasova