Smart, green, technological: when will the artificial intelligence revolution happen on Russian roads and is it worth waiting for the complete victory of artificial intelligence over the driver

Experts estimate that by 2026, more than 50% of cars sold globally will be electric. A number of automakers have already announced plans to ditch internal combustion engines. So, Jaguar plans to switch to electric traction by 2025, Volvo – by 2030, Mercedes-Benz and Audi in the next 20 years. Lamborghini announced the transition from classic internal combustion engines to hybrid power plants in 2024. In parallel, there is an active development of unmanned vehicles, which are transport modules equipped with beds, sofas, blocks for transporting bulky goods – anything but the steering wheel and pedals that we are used to seeing. When will global trends in environmental friendliness and vehicle intelligence take over the Russian market and how ready will our compatriots be for them? Comnews was told about this by Andrey Olkhovsky, General Director of the Avtodom Group of Companies.

Electrical reality

The rapid growth of electric transport on the roads of Moscow and other large cities is possible thanks to a number of measures of state support for the industry. First of all, these are zero duties on the import of new electric vehicles in force on the territory of the EAEU. However, from 2022, this rule will expire, and buyers of electric cars will have to pay 15% of the cost of the car. From this point of view, it is difficult to imagine a better time to purchase an electric car than the second half of 2021. However, the abandonment of zero duties on the import of new electric vehicles will spur sales of used eco-vehicles.

The government is taking a number of other measures to support car owners. The Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation plans to set the bar for the sale of “green” cars for automakers – cars powered by gas, electricity or hydrogen – by 2030. However, how such a mechanism will work is not yet fully understood. Indeed, when choosing between an electric car and a familiar car, the owner pays attention to many factors. And infrastructure plays an important role.

So, only in Moscow today there are more than 1,100 gasoline filling stations. And only about 100 charging stations for electric vehicles. According to the Deptrans of Moscow project, their number should be about 600 by 2023. However, the advantage of an electric car is that it can be charged from a regular 220-volt outlet, but this procedure takes up to 25 hours. Another option is to organize your own charging station in a suburban area. Some electric car owners choose this path.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Economic Development promises to subsidize the construction of electric filling stations, compensating the owners for up to 50% of their cost (about 3.5 million rubles), and partially cover the costs of connecting to the power grid (700-800 thousand).

Another measure of support for owners should be compensation for 25% of the price of an electric car. However, this rule will apply only to budget models worth up to 2.5 million rubles, produced exclusively in Russia. It is obvious that by this step the initiator of the program – the Ministry of Economic Development – seeks to stimulate the localization of the production of foreign electric cars in our country or the production of domestic “green” vehicles. However, today it is difficult to find even a budget model of an electric car that would meet such a price parameter. However, the improvement of technologies and the localization of production will help reduce prices.

In addition, localization helps to prevent the complications associated with the lack of components. Owners of American electric cars from Russia faced this issue in full in 2019-2020. In order to repair an electric car from the USA, in some cases it had to be taken to Finland. Needless to say, such a procedure in the conditions of closed borders was extremely costly for the owner. By the way, the owners of the Jaguar i-Pace or Porsche Taycan did not face such difficulties due to the properly built system of work of service stations and a streamlined supply chain of components. In the current conditions, the localization of production can be considered one of the ways that allows not only to solve the problem with components, but also to help expand the network of service centers of different brands that are sold in the Russian Federation.

Additional incentives for buying an electric car are benefits for its owners. Free parking, a 1,000-ruble charge, which lasts for several weeks, the absence of a transport tax in Moscow and a number of other regions – all this makes owning a green car even more attractive. In addition, initiatives are constantly being made to allow electric cars to move on dedicated lanes and on toll roads for free. Such measures would make it possible to further increase the share of electric transport on Russian highways, which by 2030, according to the concept of the Ministry of Economic Development, should amount to at least 10%.

Making way for the AI

If the trend for electric vehicles has long been felt in the largest cities of Russia, then the development of smart transport is not yet so dynamic. And one of the main reasons is an outdated regulatory framework. Russia signed the 1968 Vienna Convention – a document that standardizes traffic rules and defines the basic characteristics of vehicles that travel on public roads. Among other things, the convention regulates the mandatory presence of a steering wheel, pedals and a driver who drives a vehicle. This norm is becoming a significant obstacle to the development of unmanned vehicles. That is why, in 2021, Russia, together with Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland and a number of other European countries, initiated a revision of the Vienna Convention. If the document is changed, the innovations will take effect in 1.5-2 years, and unmanned vehicles will be officially recognized as participants in the movement.

In addition to changes in the Vienna Convention, it is required to create its own regulatory framework governing the use of AI on the road. When using the term “drones”, it is important to clarify what type of vehicle is being referred to. We can mean concept cars such as the Volvo 360c or BMW INEXT, which are completely electric, do not provide for the presence of a steering wheel and pedals, move completely autonomously, and a person plays only one role in them – a passenger. On the other hand, we can talk about serial cars of world brands, on which a set of equipment is installed for movement in the “unmanned vehicle” mode. Such cars periodically require human intervention in the driving process. But a number of provisions related to AI vehicles are currently unclear in road legislation. If such a vehicle is involved in an accident, who is responsible: the manufacturer, the vendor that installed the equipment for autonomous use on it, or the operator? Finally, if we imagine that the car is completely autonomous, it is important to think over the mechanism of interaction with the traffic inspectors who will come to the scene in the event of an accident.

Already today, experiments are underway on public roads with the operation of smart cars, but with the presence of an engineer in the cabin, who can quickly intervene in the situation. After testing and processing the information received, the government plans to “create conditions” in certain regions for the admission of cars to the roads, which will move without a driver. It was previously assumed that testing of autonomous vehicles will become possible in 2021, and the entire experiment on the use of self-driving cars will last until 2022. At the same time, already this year, a bill will be developed that regulates the basic operating conditions for unmanned vehicles: requirements for their insurance, transportation of passengers and cargo, periods of technical inspection.

Russian companies joined the race to create AI cars and began testing developments at their own proving grounds. A number of companies are developing domestically assembled unmanned trucks, and by 2022 it is planned to create a specialized testing ground for unmanned vehicles. The location provides for 20 km of tracks that simulate various situations on the road. Also, elements of the “smart city” system will be installed at the test site, with which the tested car will interact.

Experts predict that 69% of vehicles will be able to “communicate” with each other by 2023. Improving such technologies will help accelerate the introduction of artificial intelligence on Russian roads. However, the development of high-speed Internet is becoming an important factor stimulating this process. This is especially important when cars interact with each other or with the smart city system to obtain information about the situation on the road. Of course, some cars already have autonomous modules that allow you to work without a connection, for example, if the car is in a tunnel and does not have access to the network. Still, the developers of fully autonomous cars rely on the fact that their vehicle will have access to the network and quickly exchange data with the rest of the road infrastructure.


Karice Dabule

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