Transport infrastructure is first. Connected cars are second. Interview with Konstantin Trofimenko
Russian transport systems ready to become smart? Konstantin Trofimenko, Director of the Research Center for Megapolis Transportation Problems at Higher School of Economics, reveals this issue in an interview with Connected Car Conference. The expert explains what projects he likes the most and analyzes whether Russia has the chance to develop connected technologies.
Interviewer: Connected Car Conference (CCC)
Respondent: Konstantin Trofimenko (KT)
CCC: You worked on projects aimed at the development of transport systems in Moscow and throughout Russia. What results did you manage to achieve?
К. Т.: What’s most important is changes that have taken place in the minds of local and regional officials. Ten years ago, there was a strong popular perception that all urban residents had to solve their transport problems using their own vehicles, public transport was a social option for poor people, while smart transport was a kind of German fairytales. Today, we can hear everywhere about balanced transport and city-planning development of territories, transport modeling, and integration of digital technologies into transport.
Surely, there is a range of successful projects that I will recall with delight. For example, the organization of transportation support at the World Cup 2018 in Kaliningrad and Volgograd.
CCC: How widely are connected cars used in Russia now?
KT: They are hardly used, but the whole world is still at the beginning of this course. We also have some capacity and chances for evolving connected technologies.
CCC: What obstacles and challenges slow down the rate of integrating connected cars on the Russian market?
KT: Legal gaps are above all others: the poor infrastructure and the absence of necessary technologies. Besides, connected infrastructure operation will be a critical problem as well: conventional Russian highway engineers will unlikely cope with this task (at least, without any major reforms).
CCC: You are involved in the implementation of the national program ‘Digital economy of the Russian Federation’ and the growth of “Smart city” section. How can one make the transport system smart?
KT: Before making the transport system digital and smart, it should primarily be user-friendly, well-structured, and controlled. It is these crucial points that federal programs as well as regional and city programs (rapidly prepared in pilot cities) should mainly focus on. Key areas of digitalization include paid parking, public transport and its stops, ticket systems, passenger services like Mobility-as-a-Service, local and regional transportation models. Connected cars are the next step.
CCC: How should one adapt the infrastructure for self-driving transport, taking into account weather conditions and northern regions of the country?
KT: Unlike autonomous transport with artificial vision, connected transport lesser depends on weather conditions as it is based on sensors. However, even equipping of our enormous spaces with sensors is a great infrastructure challenge.
Moreover, this process will require extremely precise digital maps with geotagging of all road signs where connected cars will move. We also need special software to control this system and software algorithms to collect and analyze Big Data, and ultimately automate this process.
CCC: What do you think about Russia’s transport system in the near future? What changes and advancements will it face?
KT: Progressive cities will improve the convenience of the transport system. Citizens will make more multimodal trips using special mobile apps optimized with respect to the best price relations, travelling time, comfort, and other factors. In this regard, I treat connected cars (both passenger cars and buses) as a means rather than a goal.
CCC: What will you talk about at Connected Car Conference?
KT: Within my presentation, I will systemize and examine above-mentioned things.
Firstly, I will tell the audience about the general concept of transport system evolution in cities, the role of digitalization there, and the current condition of Russian cities.
I will provide a foresight concerning the integration of main digital technologies into transport, in particular connected cars. Finally, I will highlight how to launch and adapt connected vehicles in cities and what consequences it can lead to.