Deputies considering AI for transport industry

Yesterday, major parliamentary hearings on digital economy development are underway at Russia’s State Duma, with deputies considering bottom-up legislative initiatives. Cognitive Technologies Group President Olga Uskova has told parliamentarians about regulatory rules required by the young unmanned vehicle industry and the ways AI-controlled cars could save the lives of thousands of passengers as well as Russia’s economy.

Olga Uskova started her report with citing the shocking statistics. In 2018, according to data from non-governmental organizations, some 7,000 civilians were killed in military operations in Syria. In the same year, as reported by the Research Institute for Road Safety of Russia’s Ministry of the Interior, over 18,000 people died and another 214,000 were injured in road traffic accidents in the country. There is also an economic side to the issue, with insurance companies paying RUR 83 bln ($1.3 bln) annually as compensations in accident injury settlements.

“This makes road accidents a major national issue”, Olga Uskova told Invest Foresight. “The government has undertaken an ambitious task of reducing road traffic deaths threefold within the next five years. Such goals are specified in the Safe and Quality Motor Roads national project. In my opinion, this task requires a more substantial tie-in to the existing technologies, in particular, the AI-based ones”.

Smart active safety systems are already able to track a transport vehicle, control its off-track path, and imply emergency braking if necessary. According to the official statistics, in case an AI-based system warns the driver of a dangerous situation only half a second before a possible crash, the accident risk is reduced by 60%, while a warning given two seconds before a possible accident allows avoiding 90% of car crashes. 

In 2016, Europe made these systems compulsory for all cargo vehicles. The US is going the same way: American car manufacturers are ready to equip almost all new cars for sale in the US with automatic braking systems by 2022.

“We need to pay attention to the regulations developed in Europe since 2016, but with regard to our unique features”, Uskova says. “Which is that Russia ranks 13th in the world in terms of motor vehicle production and fifth in terms of demand; there are currently some 50 mio cars in the country, which is 3.9% of the global vehicle fleet. Given that we export more vehicles than produce ourselves, we need a law which will determine the quality of smart systems and the number of sensors to be installed on vehicles exported to Russia, as well as certification requirements”.

According to Uskova, the government is supposed to prompt car manufacturers and customers to install active security systems on their cars, including using discounts on compulsory third party liability insurance. These measures will both improve car accident statistics and support the new industry in the Russian economy as well as domestic producers of software and sensors.

“The discussion at the State Duma means that the idea to develop artificial intelligence, which is mainly promoted by Sberbank CEO Herman Gref, is reaching the stage of strategic planning and can soon be implemented, probably this November”, Uskova said. “We are working actively in this area: we tasked skilled experts with preparing a valuation of the law, because it is Russia’s chance to become a global leader in the development of autonomous vehicle software”.

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