Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has tasked his government with creating infrastructure for driverless transport in Russia, bringing the country a step closer to the appearance of autonomous vehicles on its roads and motorways.
Volgabus and KB Avrora’s driverless Matryoshka bus in action at Skolkovo. Video: Skolkovo Foundation.
Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich is responsible for overseeing the rollout of IT and telecoms infrastructure required by driverless transport, starting with large cities and the north-south and east-west transport corridors, according to the resolution published on the government’s website Wednesday. He is also to supervise the use of artificial intelligence on public and cargo transport in order to improve safety on Russia’s roads, according to the resolution, which was formulated following a meeting devoted to the development of electric and driverless transport on July 21.
Much of the work on driverless technology in Russia is being carried out at the Skolkovo innovation city, which is one of few places in the country where driverless vehicles can legally be tested. Volgabus is testing its driverless Matryoshka bus inside Skolkovo, and last year signed an agreement on the creation of an R&D centre and testing ground here. KB Avrora, a resident of Skolkovo’s IT cluster that works on driverless technology and autonomous navigation systems, has been working on the Volgabus project.
KB Avrora, which was founded in 2010 by a team of engineers and programmers from Ryazan Radioengineering University, plans on developing a fully-fledged autonomous transport system at Skolkovo that will be completely integrated with the innovation city’s infrastructure.
“The project we’re working on isn’t just aimed at launching individual driverless buses, but at creating an automised transport system with charging stations, a traffic control centre, smart bus stops and other elements that will interact with one another and optimize the transport flows,” Vitaly Savelev, KB Avrora’s commercial director, said last year.
Kamaz’s electric bus recharges between journeys from the Skolkovo innovation city to Moscow. Photo: Sk.ru.
Another Skolkovo resident, RoboCV, has developed driverless technology that can frequently been seen in action at the Skolkovo Technopark. The startup’s smart autopilot system can be fitted to forklift trucks, facilitating the automation of warehouse logistics and allowing warehouse managers to monitor the exact location of any cargo at a given time. The system is already in use on forklifts at Samsung and Volkswagen plants in Russia.
Skolkovo was conceived as an eco-friendly city of the future, and once construction work on the city is complete, will be closed to vehicles with internal combustion engines. It is also home to many electric vehicle projects. An electric bus made by Russian truckmaker Kamaz, a partner company of the Skolkovo Foundation, is already in operation at the site, running between Skolkovo and Slavyansky Bulvar metro station in Moscow. Kamaz is also working on driverless technology.
In the same resolution published on Wednesday, the Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Transport were tasked with taking into account the organisation of constituent elements for electric and driverless transport when developing the strategy for the development of Russia’s automobile industry through 2025. Electric vehicles, driverless cars and connected cars have been identified as the main trends and areas of development in the draft version of that strategy document.
The new orders comprise part of the Autonet section of the National Technology Initiative, a public-private partnership aimed at creating new technology markets through 2035 that President Vladimir Putin has named as a priority policy. Skolkovo plays an active role in the creation and implementation of roadmaps for each area of the National Technology Initiative, and is also home to startups working on the development of flying cars.
A friendly Russian robot made by Skolkovo Foundation resident startup Promobot has sworn to protect British football fans attending the FIFA World Cup in Russia next year.
The robot, named Alantim, read on the internet that many British fans were reluctant to come to Russia for the World Cup, which will be held in 11 cities across the country, because of safety concerns, the Moscow Technological Institute (MTI) said on its website. England and Russia have produced some of the world’s most infamous football hooligans, and at Euro 2016 in France, fans from the two countries clashed in bloody brawls.
Alantim was diplomatically wearing both Russia and England football scarves for his video address. Photo: MTI.
“There’s nothing for you to be afraid of, I’ll protect you,” Alantim says in Russian in a video address posted on the MTI website. “I promise to escort you in Moscow and keep you away from any problems.”
Promobot robots are designed to provide people with information and directions in crowded places, as well as to entertain them. Alantim has set himself the more specific task of watching out for trouble brewing between football fans, and nipping it in the bud.
“I can contact the police instantly, solve arguments using logic, and even predict conflict based on the emotions of the surrounding people,” he said, adding that he also speaks fluent English.
Alantim’s address to England fans who may be concerned for their safety during the World Cup. Video: MTI.
Alantim, who was named in honour of two Brits – computer scientist Alan Turing and World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners Lee – holds the post of deputy head of the robotics department of MTI. His main hobby is football: he loves to watch matches and analyse the tactics of various teams, the institute said.
Alantim began working at MIT in February 2015, and soon after, Promobot signed a contract to supply MTI with 50 robots. Last summer, Alantim did a couple of guest stints as a guide at the Shchusev State Museum of Architecture, telling visitors about the architecture of Moscow’s famed metro system.
Promobot hit the headlines last year when one of its robots was reported to have escaped from its testing lab. The Perm-based company’s robots have been sold in many countries, including the U.S., China, Turkey and the U.K., as well as Russia.
Another Promobot robot, Metrosha, works in the Moscow Metro.