Driverless buses and many more technoparks for Moscow

Visitors looking at a Moscow map at the 2016 Moscow Urban Forum at the Manezh Central Exhibition Centre.

Visitors looking at a Moscow map at the 2016 Moscow Urban Forum at the Manezh Central Exhibition Centre.

Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS
The Moscow Urban Forum this year discussed the further development of cities, driverless public transport and developing almost thrice as many new technoparks.

Among the novelties in store during the 2018 soccer World Cup will be driverless buses for the streets of Moscow, said Arkady Dvorkovich, Russian Deputy Prime Minister at the Moscow Urban Forum.

Driverless public transport would mark the first phase of the Russian capital’s technological transformation, Dvorkovich said at the Forum, held in Moscow from June 30 to July 3, TASS reported.

An eight-passenger driverless bus project was introduced in June 2016 at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Equipment for the new bus would be 60 percent ‘made in Russia’, said Alexei Bakulin, managing director of the Volgabus holding company that developed the project.

Singapore, Asia’s financial centre and one of the world’s most modern cities, will begin testing driverless public buses as early as this year.

Metropolises have common problems

The world’s biggest metropolises all over the world face the same problems, Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said at the Moscow Urban Forum.

“Large cities are the first to experience all the challenges and problems. But they also have more opportunities for development,” he added.

According to the latest data from the Demographia World Urban Areas yearbook, the world now has 36 megacities, metropolitan areas with a population of over 10 million people. One in every 12 people on the planet lives in them.

Additionally, nearly one in every three people on the planet now live in large cities with a population of over 500,000, more than the world’s total population in 1930.

“Some people think that the world’s biggest cities are engaged in fierce competition with each other. In fact, we cooperate, we have the same problems and this cooperation creates a huge synergy for development,” said Sobyanin.

He went on to add that the development of large cities prompts global decisions, including from the point of view of technological development.

“Cities rather than countries and nations are the foundation of the world of the future, and if we don’t know how to combine technologies with city-dwellers’ wishes, they will not work,” said Anthony Townsend, founder of Bits and Atoms, an advisory practice dedicated to technology-enabled urban development.

Number of technoparks to rise threefold

Sobyanin said that, over the next several years, Moscow would have three times as many technoparks, special areas for developing innovation business, to promote development of technological initiatives,

There are currently 20 technoparks functioning in the Russian capital, with a total area of around 750,000 square metres, including the gigantic technopolis called Moskva, which covers an area of 340,000 square metres. Around 20,000 people are employed in the city’s technoparks.

Oleg Bocharov, head of the Moscow city department of science, industrial policy and entrepreneurship, said technoparks do not only help the innovation economy and create jobs, they also become new urban development centres.

“Moscow has 120 high-tech universities and institutes, but they do not have access to the market. Our task looking ahead is to change that. To prove that the city can offer a decent realization of intellectual capital,” said Bocharov.

An annual event first held in 2011, the Moscow Urban Forum is an international conference on urban and city planning, architecture, urban economy and development.

A total of 4,208 delegates from 42 countries, including the U.S., China, Austria, the Philippines, Japan, and South Korea, attended the 2016 Forum.

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