Taking part in the meeting were First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, presidential aides Igor Levitin and Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Alexander Kozlov, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Minister of Agriculture Dmitry Patrushev, Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov, Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov, Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Maksut Shadayev, Energy Minister Nikolai Shulginov, Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina, Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov, Director of the Federal Guard Service Dmitry Kochnev, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, First Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Vasily Osmakov, Deputy Defence Minister Alexei Krivoruchko, Deputy Minister for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Natural Disaster Relief Viktor Yatsutsenko, Special Presidential Representative on Digital and Technological Development and General Director of the Platform of the National Technology Initiative Dmitry Peskov, as well as the heads of State Transport Leasing Company (GTLK), the Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography (Rosreestr), Gazprombank, Sberbank, Bank Rossiya and the State Development Corporation VEB.RF.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good evening, colleagues.
Since we have been working for a long time today and it is getting late, I suggest getting down to practical matters. We are all aware of the situation, and we have just now had a meeting with representatives of companies that are working in the sphere of unmanned aircraft. So, there is no need to speak about its importance for the country.
During this meeting, we must above all focus on things that are hindering the development of unmanned aircraft, such as obsolete regulations, the lack of necessary infrastructure, and managerial cliches and stereotypes, when we use old paradigms and believe that this is enough to ensure the necessary level of security, whereas this is hindering progress.
Today, we will discuss in detail the initiatives made by business representatives. The overwhelming majority of our colleagues have attended that meeting. Along with specific suggestions from businesses, these proposals should be reflected in the national project on the development of unmanned aviation and unmanned aircraft systems. As you know, at the end of last year, the Government received an instruction to draft and launch this project as soon as possible.
The goal of this new national project is to use the entire technological potential of this advanced industry for strengthening national security, enhancing the effectiveness of the domestic economy and improving people’s living standards.
I would like to emphasise that unmanned aircraft should open fundamentally different opportunities that were inaccessible at the former technological level, in many diverse areas. Thus, we are to make broad use of these systems for developing our enormous spaces, fast delivery of food and medications, for providing postal and other high-demand social services.
In the next few years, unmanned aircraft systems should largely monitor the condition of industrial facilities, pipeline systems and power transmission lines – almost the entire critical infrastructure. They should also monitor forests. True, this is already being done to some extent, but on a very modest scale. Meanwhile, there exists enormous opportunities for controlling other eco systems. We need to use these systems to quickly prevent emergencies and eliminate the consequences. We all know this.
Of course, the opportunities for using unmanned aircraft systems in agriculture were also discussed to some extent. There is no doubt that this will enhance the effectiveness and competitive ability of our agricultural industry that is making steady headway.
Overall, expert estimate – we also discussed this, in part, at the exhibition – that the domestic market for civilian drones alone is said to be 500 billion rubles. This is the estimate of those who presented this information. However, when I said it would be at least a trillion rubles, nobody objected to my remark. Most likely, this will be the case.
Importantly, Russian companies operating in the field of unmanned aviation have many technical solutions to present, including different types of UAVs and infrastructure designs for safe use in our airspace, as well as a range of innovations in related fields, including artificial intelligence and other end-to-end technologies. All these things are interconnected to the point where some areas of unmanned aviation cannot exist without artificial intelligence. That is why this synergy is extremely important and exciting.
I am convinced that we have the potential in a critically important area like unmanned aircraft to ensure the proper level of technological sovereignty. Frankly, this is the area where we can and should not just replace imports but be one step ahead of our competitors. Today, our business leaders made it clear that such opportunities are available. In fact, our manufacturers are way ahead of their competitors and we must support them.
To do so, it is imperative to localise the development and production of our own breakthrough technologies and element base as much as possible and mass produce promising and competitive models. We need to support technology companies, start-up businesses, small and medium-sized companies to literally and figuratively spread their wings so that we can have our own national champions and industry leaders in domestic and global markets alike, and so that Russian-made drones are widely used to conquer the skies in the broadest sense of the word.
Here is what I would like to specifically focus on.
First, it is important to remove outdated administrative, regulatory and other barriers. We just heard the business community talk about this. Without a doubt, this should be done while keeping things safe and we must formulate up-to-date, clear-cut and transparent rules for the UAV industry. Colleagues, I would like to hear your proposals today. In order to ensure this kind of security, it is imperative that we move to innovative technological – primarily digital – solutions.
In this regard, my second point is that digital aviation is possible only in a digital environment, which is why, to reiterate, it is important to make wider use of digital platforms based on Russian software and AI technology. We have covered this on many occasions today. They will be used to store, process and analyse data received from unmanned aerial systems.
Most importantly, these platforms will not only improve security, as I just mentioned, but they will radically simplify and speed up many processes, including the issuance of various authorisations and airborne UAV control procedures, the use of digital twins instead of the so-called full-scale tests. We discussed this today as well and, I think, the arguments were quite compelling.
The third point is creating manufacturing clusters for unmanned aerial systems and the ground infrastructure for them. One cluster like this is the Rudnyovo industrial park being created here in Moscow. Mr Sobyanin spoke about it in detail today, and to be honest, as people say, it warms my heart to see development on this scale. It really is impressive, without a doubt.
Moscow’s experience certainly needs to be replicated in other Russian regions, in particular, research and production centres should provide conditions for the design and testing of new projects.
Further, the most important condition for industry development is creating demand for domestic drones, primarily through state orders, and last but not least, and maybe even first, orders for civilian products. Because it’s the talk everywhere – it is clear that drones are in demand and are widely used for military purposes. But the real market for them is in their civilian use – this is what I meant when I talked about a one-trillion-ruble market.
One great tool for boosting demand for a product is the creation of special operators who will make large purchases and then lease the UAVs. Mr Ditrikh [CEO of State Transport Leasing Company] who spoke today, proposed making his company the operator in this area. Here we need to help business at all levels: at the state, federal, regional and municipal levels.
Just as with other segments of the UAV market, it is essential to prevent monopolies, to preserve competition based on a balance of interests between entrepreneurs, investors and the state.
Further, in fact, a steady and reliable demand for high-tech products is the industry’s systemic financial support. This idea has come up many times today during various discussions.
At the same time, other mechanisms need to be initiated. I am referring, first, to venture capital and direct investment, which, among other things, should be directed to R&D, to building production facilities, as well as ground and other infrastructure.
When implementing technology projects, including unmanned aerial systems, the state must lend a hand to investors and create incentives for attracting extra-budgetary funds, including through the mechanisms provided by VEB. In general, we must make the industry economically appealing, and then investors will come.
Creating a market for these products and services is a priority. Anything goes. To do this, we need to adjust the regulations in a variety of areas, and if we change the information requirements, including information quality and other parameters in various industries, we will not be able to do without drones. As soon as we realise that we cannot do without drones, the demand will follow, meaning that investors will come. Please think this through in every detail.
I would be remiss in not mentioning people. It is important to include training courses and UAV piloting modules in training programmes in a variety of areas. What is this about? For example, agronomists must have the requisite skills and knowledge in the area of agriculture, as should builders, energy technicians, and of course transport employees.
Without a doubt, I fully support our companies’ proposal to make sure that already in school children learn to control, assemble and design drones. I am sure that, first, this is a useful and exciting pastime which will distract them from what they should not be doing and, second, this kind of early occupational guidance will ultimately benefit the country as well.
In closing, I would like to reiterate that the national project format which we are talking about was deliberately and purposefully chosen to promote the development of unmanned aerial systems. The success is this area will mean a pivotal change in our economy and changes in the lives of our people, and the strong and confident progress of our country. This is what unmanned aviation means.
Of course, unmanned aviation systems, as well as a number of innovative high-tech spheres, will clearly be one of the key areas in Russia's development, and not just until 2030, but well beyond this decade.
Let's discuss these matters but make it short and as much to the point as possible.
Please, Mr Belousov, go ahead.