Transport of the Future in Russia. Opportunities, prospects, and first steps
Aviation pioneers the Wright Brothers forecasted in the early 1900s that at least 50 years would be required for the development of aircraft. However, armies started to use airplanes in 15 years. In 1918, the golden era of the aviation began with lots of innovations developed and hundreds of new planes built at that time.
Now it is time for a new era for the ground transport: we can see electric cars, gyro trains, and the underground high-speed system Hyperloop. News about them seems like quotations from science fiction novels. With the progress rate in mind, it is quite possible that the transport of the future will arrive in all metropolitan cities by 2030.
Is Russia involved in innovations? Which transport of the future will we witness and test in the upcoming years? Read in our review!
Many countries equip public transport with electric engines to reduce noise and smog in big cities. Russia is not an exception.
Electric transport is massively adopted in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Initiatives are also launched in other cities such as Novosibirsk, Kursk, Sevastopol, Tambov, and Rostov-on-Don. Moscow boasts the most large-scale program: the state unitary enterprise Mosgortrans will be purchasing 300 electric buses every year until 2021, and has plans to expand the fleet with this type of vehicles only starting from 2021. Both import and domestic machines will emerge in the streets.
Electric buses can rely on static or dynamic charging. The latter resemble trolleybuses and are powered by the public transportation network, but at the same time, the battery is charged to allow for autonomous operation. Therefore, the route of such transport should include streets equipped with trolley lines.
Russia designs the following electric bus models:
- electric bus based on the low-floor bus LiAZ-5292;
- experimental electric bus Trolza-5265.02;
- electric bus KamAZ-6282.
Moscow plans to send several LiAZ electric buses to М2 route Fili – Kitay-gorod metro station by September.
Unmanned public transport
Computer controlled cars and buses can reduce the number of road accidents and resolve the problem of traffic jams. Russia develops and trials such kind of transport.
The first experiment was made by Cognitive Technologies. Together with KAMAZ, the company developed and tested the project of an unmanned truck in February 2015.
In 2017, the first trials of Matrёshka unmanned bus took place at the Kalibr technopark (Moscow). It can transport passengers and cargos and function as municipal vehicles.
Russian companies Cognitive Technologies, Yandex, and MISIS University develop software for unmanned cars. Driver’s assistant called C-Pilot has been already released. There are plans to upgrade it to be able to offer fully automated control.
There has been the first case of implementing self-driving vehicles in a town. Shatl unmanned buses produced by KAMAZ were launched in Kazan prior to the FIFA World Cup. A separate, closed, 650 m long track was built for them.
Yandex is also planning to open a track for self-driving cars. It will connect the test site and the company’s office (the distance of around 6 km). The opening is scheduled for 2019. The company wants to launch self-driving cars in the streets of Moscow.
Russian unmanned buses:
- «Matrёshka» (Volgabus and Bakulin Motors Group). The bus is powered by electricity; the battery charge lasts for 130 km and it takes four hours to fully charge. Technically, the bus can exceed the speed of 100 km/h, but the self-driving speed was restricted to 20 km/h.
- Shatl (KAMAZ). The maximum speed is 40 km/h. The bus can transport passengers to predetermined stops specified in the electronic system. Passengers can manipulate the door opening system, the system of choosing the halting point for getting off, requested stops, emergency stops, emergency calls, and manual opening of the door. The body is made of a composite, and the frame is made of aluminum materials.
The adoption of self-driving cars requires new legislation and the creation of detailed roadmaps. Data about on-road obstacles and nearby objects should be entered into the program in advance to save the self-driving car from inaccurate recognition of objects and road accidents. The team of MosgortransNIIproekt headed by Aleksandr Polyakov is already working on such a map in Moscow.
Ultrafast Hyperloop trains
On August 2, 2017, the team of Hyperloop One reported that they tested the XP-1 capsule, the future carriage of the ultrafast train, in near-vacuum conditions for the first time ever. According to the author Elon Musk, this new concept should become the "fifth mode of transportation" after trains, planes, cars, and ships. The second trial stage was assessed as successful.
As for the construction, Hyperloop is a kind of aboveground vacuum pipeline, where capsules travel carrying passengers. They will move with the speed of 480-1220 km/h, i.e. up to ten times faster than the other ground transport.
If the project is realized, vacuum trains will come to Russia someday. Currently, the most probable scenario is the construction of the line between Húnchūn (China) and Port of Zarubino (the Primorye Territory) with the length of 65 km.
It is impossible to build such a line without governmental support, but Russia has a positive attitude to the idea. In January of 2017, the Russian Ministry of Transport announced the establishment of the workgroup responsible for the development of Hyperloop technology in Russia. Moreover, several big investors in our country financed the project.
Is it possible to design a car that does not require fueling? Engineers work on it all over the world, and today the most popular concept is a vehicle based on solar batteries. Honda and independent inventors have already offered functional models.
Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University works on the project of the first solar car in Russia. The project’s working title is SOL. The vehicle will be able to reach the speed of 150 km/h and its weight will not exceed 200 kg.
Many engineers have been trying to solve the problem of traffic jams by creating several traffic levels. However, the most unusual concept was offered by Dakhir Semenov, an entrepreneur of Russian origin, founder of Dakhir Insaat engineering company (Turkey). He designed the project of a gyro car – a train that glides along the rail over the highway.
Dakhir Insaat gyro cars are equipped with gyro sensors that maintain the balance thanks to the flywheel. Therefore, a gyro car can move along the rail, which rises only 2cm above the road, while the saloon is positioned at an altitude of several meters. That is a nice idea for a big city – a large vehicle that occupies only the traffic line.
Dakhir Insaat conducts negotiations with Qatar and Dubai concerning the pilot project. If it turns out to be successful, gyro trains are likely to appear in Russia.