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 Skolkovo resident startup has impressed the government of Russia’s Chelyabinsk region with its technology for the maintenance of water and heating pipes without having to dig trenches and replace sections of piping.
The Mayak Urals Factory of Polymer Technologies has developed the Smart Sleeve, a plastic tube made of complex modified polymers. The sleeve can be inserted into the pipeline directly from the ground, and when heated with steam up to the temperature required for plasticisation (about 140 degrees Celsius), expands to coat the walls of the pipe, creating an interior that is highly resistant to chemicals and temperatures and can prolong the pipe’s life by up to 50 years by making it resistant to corrosion and buildups.
The Smart Sleeve can be inserted into a pipeline without the need to dig up the road. Photo: http://pravmin74.ru.
The startup, a resident of Skolkovo’s energy-efficient technologies cluster, demonstrated its technology to local officials on a 20-metre section of a water pipe on the grounds of a hospital in the Chelyabinsk region earlier this summer. It also completed a new pilot project this week to restore an 18-metre section of a water main in Ozyorsk, the Chelyabinsk region closed city (and birthplace of the Soviet nuclear weapons programme) where Mayak is based.
“If the housing and utilities services adopt this new technology, it will make it possible to solve the problem of renewing heating and water supply networks in both the city and region, and to save budget funds allocated for this purpose,” the region’s economic development minister Sergei Smolnikov was quoted as saying of the hospital test project on his ministry’s website, which reported that the initiative to test Mayak’s Smart Sleeve system had come from the minister.
Mayak’s technology costs considerably less than replacing pipes or carrying out major repair work to them after digging up the surrounding area and then having to resurface it again. It does not require the use of excavators or many workers, the company says.
The Smart Sleeve expands to coat the inside of the pipe when heated up using steam, strengthening the pipeline. Photo: http://pravmin74.ru.
“We saw that there was no need to dig a trench in the process of renewing the water supply networks, which made it possible to save the blue spruces growing at the site,” said Sergei Kazakov, director of the Chelyabinsk region’s Foundation for Industrial Development, the regional ministry for economic development reported.
More than 65 percent of pipes in the housing and utilities sector and 45 percent of oil and gas pipelines are in critical condition and require urgent repairs, according to the Mayak Urals Factory of Polymer Technologies. General wear and tear combined with overdue repairs can lead to serious emergencies, and in addition, pipes in poor condition have reduced transmission, leading to increased heat loss and a worsening of the chemical composition of the water that they carry.
Once treated with the Smart Sleeve, the pipes become resistant to chemicals and temperatures of up to 150 degrees, meaning it can be used for hot water pipes and also for pipelines transporting oil, oil products and chemicals.
“The new technology and the completely innovative material of the Smart Sleeve were created in the South Urals thanks to the professional and scientific skills of Ozyorsk scientists,” Ruslan Gattarov, deputy governor of the Chelyabinsk region, was cited as saying on the regional government’s website.
“According to an evaluation by Skolkovo experts, there are analogous technologies, but this is superior to all of them, anywhere in the world. Therefore this product could be in demand not only in our region and country, but also abroad,” he said.
The Chelyabinsk regional governer Boris Dubrovsky has called for the promotion of innovative projects, and at his initiative, a working group was set up to introduce new technologies and test them in real conditions, the regional government reported on its website.