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Innovational St. Petersburg. Wowing the guests of the XI International Forum


Natalya Bandurina, reporter: “A smart move from geographical and historical standpoints – to hold the Innovations Forum in St. Petersburg. Presenting the newest developments and discussing their social value. It was in St. Petersburg, for instance, that the first ever parachute was created. It was in St. Petersburg that Boris Rozing assembled his first TV set – and we thank him for that. Radio was also born in St. Petersburg. But what kind of city we are living at now – the city of the future or the one which dwells in its legendary past? Let’s see”.


  • What is your name?

  • I am Stoletov 2.0. I am the real robot

He’s got light bulbs for eyes and a peculiar sense of humor.

  • Madam, let’s play. I will be an interrogated guerilla and won’t tell you a thing.

And all the while Stoletov can memorize people’s faces and shake their hands. It can react to intonations – will smile if you make compliments. Such robots are already working as entertainers at holiday resorts and even read lectures.

Vyacheslav Udalov, head of projects at agency of innovative advertisement: “It can be a promoter, it can be a guide. Aw, it doesn’t want to work as a guide”.

The evolution of Russia’s robotics can be traced at ITMO’s laboratory. From the simplest machines which perform complex yet monotonous tasks – to a walking robot.

Sergey Kolyubin, deputy director at mega-faculty of computer technologies and management: “Modern day robots are those which will solve tasks in unstructured environments”.

  • When will those be in the streets? Will they sell ice-cream?

  • Very soon. Everything which can be automated will be automated. 0

Mikhail is yet to turn 16, but he’s already won the first prize at the World Robot Olympics in Canada. And his automated system of quick construction of residential blocks in hard-to-reach places – it’s like a readymade investment offer. It’s so simple that it’s utterly brilliant – a closed circle of railways and robots which construct buildings in blocks.

Mikhail Gorodov, student of gymnasium 239: “For instance, it can help the “Far-Eastern hectare” program – where such system would simplify everything with a push of a few buttons”.

Such system was used during the construction of Lakhta-Center. Innovation in action, so to speak. Our St. Petersburg’s know-how.

Natalya Bandurina, reporter: “At this rate, video cameras will become smaller and mobile. And drones will be delivering donuts”

Why not? It is an innovative idea. And nothing to laugh about. In China, for instance, mail has been delivered by robots for a long time – while medication to mountain areas has been delivered by drones. The system of a so-called “social credit” exists in Zhan Xiunli’s home country. You get points for good deeds, lose points for bad deeds. If you go below zero – have many fines or being prosecuted – you lose benefits in education or healthcare. And this is not an anti-utopia. Orwell’s “1984” is becoming a reality.

Zhan Xiunli, deputy director at the Academy of Oriental Languages and Culture: “It is a good experience and it needs to be constantly improved. I think Russia can adopt it”.

Total surveillance on the people has not been implemented yet here – like in China - but monitoring of the city’s life is just as good.

The man who painted over a memorable sign at Nevskiy recently was found and apprehended thanks to CCTV footage. Something which was hard to envisage merely 10 years ago. But now it’s simple.

Yakov Volkind, director of a video surveillance company: “It is a safe city. Technologies are useful here. And we are offering ways and solutions to improve those, to reach perfection”.

The face recognition system has been operating in St. Petersburg’s streets and subway for a while now. But stores are now getting opened in the places with most pedestrians – something which can be analyzed through the video footage. The first driverless car drove through our streets. So, in theory, we are living in a smart city. But not everyone agrees. And not all innovations survive.

Natalya Bandurina, reporter: “It’s not just a bus stop – it is a breakthrough! It has everything – WiFi, chargers for devices. Everything which would make you want to stay at it – not just wait for your bus and leave. There should have been at least 500 stops like that in St. Petersburg, but there is only one. The man behind this idea lives and works in Crimea. It would’ve been cool if the stop had video screen which we could use to chat with him – but we will use the good old Skype”.

  • Anton, tell us. Why only one? What happened?

Anton Chervinskiy, developer of smart stops: “Bureaucrats could not find an agreement and provide paperwork. So the project was halted”.

So this is how red-tape blocked innovation. And now this stop is almost like Nevskiy’s landmark – to remind us where good intentions sometimes lead to.

  • Thank you, Anton. At least I have charged my phone.

Solar batteries installed next to regular stops suffered the same fate. Those were meant to accumulate solar energy during the day – to provide cost-free illumination after dark. But it turned out to be completely cost-ineffective. And some locals also stole those batteries and took them home – for whatever reason.

This is just about the only place in St. Petersburg where solar batteries actually work. The rooftop of the Institute of Physics and Technics. Unique modules, which are used all over the world, are being developed here.

Evgeniy Terukov, deputy head of science: “We have batteries like that and they produce energy”.

There is enough solar energy to make a kettle boil numerous times – and it’s a welcomed addition to the existing power sources.

The scientists have presented a “Solar Car” at the Forum – which was successfully tested at a desert race. It is unlikely that it would be seen in the urban landscapes any time soon. Too slow for the city which requires high speed. St. Petersburg cannot be called a true Hi-Tech and “smart” city, but it is trying hard to become one.

Natalya Bandurina, reporter: “An imaginary city of the future is usually a cliché – traffic jams in the skies, robots helping people, walk their children and regulate traffic. Sci-fi, you would say? No, all of these things already exist – although at the Forum’s stands. Why? Oh, here’s my doughnut, although cold. Innovations have to be smart. Might sound weird, but its true”.