Several ministries of the Russian Federation, including The Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Economic Development, as well as the Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transport (Rosmorrechflot) supported the draft government decree on conducting an experiment on the operation of self-driving vessels.
According to the document, the experiment will be carried out from October 1, 2020 to December 31, 2025 in Saint Petersburg, the Leningrad Region, the Astrakhan Region, the Kaliningrad Region, the Magadan Region, the Murmansk Region, the Rostov Region, the Sakhalin Region, the Krasnodar Region, the Primorsky Region and the Khabarovsk Region.
Alexander Pinsky, head of the MariNet industry center of the National Technology Initiative, explains that the main goal of the project is to ensure that from January 2021 any shipping company can equip its merchant or technical vessel under the Russian flag with autonomous navigation systems and legally use them in regular commercial activities.
According to the expert, the massive introduction of autonomous ships in the world is expected in the next five to ten years, and shipping companies will be able to reduce operating costs by 15-30% through the introduction of autonomous driving technology.
The idea of autonomous navigation in Russia was described in 2016 in the “roadmap” of the MariNet industry center of the National Technology Initiative. The work on the project began in early 2019. In September 2019, the Ministry of Industry and Trade signed a contract with the Kronstadt Technologies company for the “development of a unified technological platform for unmanned management of commercial marine vessels for various purposes”. Also, a regulatory system, which is planned to be approved in the fall, was prepared within the framework of the National Technology Initiative.