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We all know that cars are getting smarter, and driverless cars are looming on the horizon. The day may not be too far off when we can just summon a driverless car, hop in and relax, leaving the car to deal with all the tasks that drivers currently have to juggle, from navigation and safe driving to finding a parking space. But while fully autonomous vehicles for now remain a dream, there are already plenty of tech gadgets and systems designed by resident startups of the Skolkovo Foundation to make driving a safer and less stressful experience.
WayRay's technology enables drivers to see all the navigation information they need projected onto the road. Photo: WayRay.
WayRay, a resident of Skolkovo’s space cluster, makes two products for drivers. The first is Navion, a holographic navigator that shows drivers the route to take by projecting arrows directly onto the road ahead of the car – via its windshield. The system can be controlled via voice commands, meaning drivers don’t have to look away from the road to adjust it. The second is Element, a compact dongle that works with an app to give drivers feedback on their driving. Described by the company as “a personal driving coach,” Element compiles statistics on the driver’s performance with the aim of helping the driver to improve. Ever lost your car in a massive car park? Element can help you to find it too. Both WayRay products are due to be released this year.
The Hudway app made by another resident of the space cluster, RIT Innovacii, is designed to help drivers reach their destination safely in poor weather conditions. Hudway, described by its makers as “a professional co-driver on your phone,” is already available from the App Store and Google Play and requires no additional equipment. The driver simply puts the phone on the dashboard in low visibility conditions and the road display and instructions are projected onto the road ahead via the windshield, enabling the driver to keep their eyes on the road. The app gives both visual and audio warnings of upcoming turns. The best part? The app is free!
If these first two apps are designed to make it easier to reach your destination, Where Do I Park (Gde Parkovka) – a resident of Skolkovo’s IT cluster – solves the eternal problem faced by drivers around the world upon arrival (in cities, at least): finding a free parking space. The free app shows drivers available parking spots near their destination as they approach, and also shows them the most efficient way to get to them. Unlike other parking apps, it combines this information with traffic and navigation data. The app is available in both Moscow and London, and works in English and Russian. A version for holders of residential parking permits is also now available.
One of Bravo Motors' numerous models of ultra-light electric cars and company head Konstantin Artemyev. Photo: Sk.ru.
Bravo Motors, a resident of Skolkovo’s energy cluster, makes the e-Trike: an ultra-light three-wheel electric car that avoids many of the traffic and parking issues faced by drivers of regular cars. In an extra stroke of maneuverability, the transformer-vehicle can change the distance between its front and rear wheels, allowing drivers to use both roads and pedestrian zones, depending on what position the wheels are in. The e-Trike can be controlled remotely via a smartphone, and is driven using a joystick. Its makers estimate it is 20 times cheaper to maintain than a regular car. The eTrike took first place at Skolkovo’s Startup Village in 2013, and now a range of vehicles of various sizes is available for use at universities, hospitals, parks, golf courses and other areas.
Vocord, a resident of Skolkovo’s IT cluster, aims to make driving safer for all road users by detecting and automatically recording traffic violations. It also monitors traffic conditions and statistics, allowing the transport authorities to try to make transport systems more efficient and optimize vehicle flows. Vocord Traffic automatically recognizes all license plates and records information about passing vehicles in any weather conditions and at any time of day or night. The system can be installed on motorways and roads, as well as at railway crossings and crossroads, and can be used as evidence following violations. The system is integrated with police databases, and is already successfully operating in 30 cities and regions, including as part of “safe city” programmes.