Interview of GLONASS Union president Alexander Gurko on the airwaves of Ъ Fm
What is GLONASS today? Is it a successful project? Is it possible to say that Russian satellite navigation system has become one of the central players in the global market? The answers to these and other questions gave the president of GLONASS Union Alexander Gurko to the anchor of "Kommersant FM" Anatoliy Kuzichev within the program Personas.
"2.5 BILLION USERS APPLY THE GLONASS/GPS SYSTEM"
Alexander Gurko on the number of people using GLONASS: "Few people know that since 2011 a two-system GLONASS/GPS navigation receiver has been present in all of the smartphones of different manufacturers including Apple, Samsung and others. It means that since 2011 2.5 billion users have already been applying the GLONASS-technologies in their receivers, telephones and smartphones. It is not a demand but back then the manufacturers of chipsets, navigation receivers, the leading companies, the world leaders in the sphere of microelectronics developed a two-system GLONASS/GPS receiver, and since 2011 all the smartphones with a navigation function use GLONASS/GPS – both GLONASS and GPS. So the phone operates on two groupings, two systems. Two systems work better than one, and in order to improve the accuracy and reliability of positioning, especially in urban area, it is very important that the receiver built in the phone sees both groupings. Positioning requires four devices, and in this case the receiver captures any four devices, for instance, two GPS, two GLONASS in any proportion".
On the requirements of the Customs Union for cars: "There is a technical regulation of the Customs Union regarding cars: starting from this year the cars of the approved type, i.e. new models, must have an urgent response system based on GLONASS. 11 models will already be certified this year; the first model, Lada Vesta, received a certificate two weeks ago. And starting from 2017 all the new cars sold on the territory of the Customs Union, including Russia, must have an urgent response system. A similar system is introduced in Europe on a mandatory basis since 2018. The European Parliament has voted for that this April. All the new receivers and devices work with all the groupings available. Soon there will be four of them – GLONASS, GPS, the Chinese system BeiDou and European system Galileo are actively developing".
On the apps in which GLONASS is used: "It is true that there are plenty of navigation apps including those that are based on GLONASS. There are some professional apps, for example, for managing an ambulance crew, in order to choose the nearest crew and reduce the response time of the call. There is an app for managing mobile squads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The principle is the same: the nearest crew is chosen and the response time of the call is reduced.
Also, in terms of prevention of car accidents, appear new products for insurance companies, which are now entering the market, it is so-called smart insurance when the policy holder voluntarily installs in his car the device, tracking his driving style and driving habits and forming an individual tariff plan, which depends on the way the person drives, enters the turns, accelerates, violates or doesn't violate road laws, etc. This individual approach is of current interest in view of the recent increase in prices for comprehensive and collision car insurance. Such products are very interesting for insurance companies, because they allow to select policy holders , that is the people, who are good and responsible in driving their cars, chose such services because they provide them with the opportunity to spend less on the comprehensive and collision car insurance. Moreover, it indirectly leads to prevention of car accidents.
"WE ARE COMPARED TO GPS IN ACCURACY FIGURES"
Aleksandr Gurko on plans of GLONASS development: "As part of GLONASS Federal Target Program it is planned to improve accuracy figures before 2020. As the result of implementation of this program we are compared to GPS in figures. When creating the high accuracy positioning subsystem we can even boost these figures. Our systems have some technical features. In this case much depends on frequency standards, virtually on the quality of the clock, used in car. This work is in hand of Russian institutes. However, this difference is insignificant for civil application. The GLONASS system is fully-extended and provided with infrastructure. The ground control complex is being updated, but this process is infinite. The Federal Space Agency, which has been transformed into the state-owned corporation ROSCOSMOS, is responsible for the whole grouping. They do their job adequately: the system is developing and recognized as a standard in this sphere by the world community. Thousands of companies voluntary use this technology".
On remotely piloted vehicles: "The trend of the automotive field is development of remotely piloted vehicles. There are lots of interesting concepts, where remotely piloted vehicles work with drones and perform multitasks. Now the issue of remotely piloted air, surface and water transport is growing rapidly, inclusive of Russia. At the Agency for Strategic Initiatives there is the National Technology Initiative and such groups as Autonet, MariNet, etc which are engaged in breakthrough directions of the sphere of export-oriented technologies. Particularly, the Autonet sub-group deals with remotely piloted vehicles; KAMAZ is a leader of this sub-group. As a part of KAMAZ initiatives a remotely piloted vehicle is being designed; its prototype has already been created and is tested now. Remotely piloted trucks are the vehicles that are developing most rapidly nowadays. For example, in Singapore, a large project of remotely piloted vehicles is implemented. Singapore plans its 50-60 per cent-use by 2020. The new concepts of car usage are changing the industry of control over road traffic and road construction, as well as legislation. Drones do not need construction of wide roads and bridge crossings. In general, experts of this field note that the technology is already fully ready for creation of remotely piloted vehicles, but the regulatory framework lags far behind. Not only in Russia, but throughout the world, and it is the main issue now."
"IT IS NOT NEW TECHNOLOGIES, BUT SELLING MARKET SIZE"
Alexander Gurko about the prospects of import substitution in the field of electronics in Russia: "I would not be that optimistic about the software, because, in any case, our programmers write in languages that were created and developed not in Russia. The software created in Russia has good quality, especially when it comes to unique products. And we know cases when our companies developing software were competitive enough in foreign markets as well. The situation is much worse with microelectronics in this sense - we are far behind in technology development; however, the point here is not about a technology but about a selling market size, because manufacturing companies have been consolidating around large factories for many years, and now the majority of the world's leading design centers, and this applies to phones and chips, place orders for four to five factories, which are located in Taiwan, China, Korea. And these plants produce billions of chips per year, working for the whole world market.
Therefore, it is very difficult to set up factories of civil purposes, recreate Russian microelectronics, or rather, create Russian electronics, including such reason as the lack of economy of scale for such industries. Of course, export in modern technologies in the field of microelectronics is difficult for us. It is just a long way to go that requires a lot of professional work and setting of priorities in various fields of microelectronics and requires, of course, much time. In the first place, we should develop not the plants, but design centers that are companies able to make the final products and understand the market, understand the technology and that after a while will be able to define requirements for production in Russia, realizing the market size and product requirements. That is a long way with a very professional management".
On the influence of sanctions on the development of microelectronics: "When it comes to consumer devices, unfortunately, I can say that all electronic components are imported, but software and design in general are often Russian. That means that Russia is one of the most developed markets in the application of navigation for professional tasks, for the management of transport, for high-precision positioning, therefore, our market is very developed in terms of the finished products but, unfortunately, components are all imported.
Sanctions are useful because they force us to move and accelerate some processes of import substitution where it is possible in a reasonable time. However, it is essential to approach this process professionally, which means that we should not act as if victory were already in the bag and declare that we will substitute everything in six months or a year. Moreover, we still do not have to replace many things. It is necessary to work out priorities in order to achieve success in a reasonable period of time".