Up Great international technology contests launched in Russia


Russian Venture Company (RVC), Skolkovo Foundation, and Agency for Strategic Initiatives announced the call for applications for Up Great technology contests implemented within the National Technology Initiative (NTI). The first series of contests will focus on addressing global technological challenges and searching for breakthrough solutions in the development of unmanned transport and hydrogen energy.

Up Great is a new format of open calls in Russia based on the model of prestigious international competitions such as XPrize and Darpa Grand Challenge. The participants are required to find solutions for challenging technological tasks that have not been solved anywhere in the world yet. The winning team will have to overcome a global technological barrier and showcase a repeatable solution of the contest’s task in front of the jury and the general public. Contest’s results will contribute to development of breakthrough solutions for fundamentally new markets on an international scale.

The applications for the first three contests - Winter City, First Element. Air and First Element. Earth - can be submitted starting from July 2018. Engineering teams, innovative companies, scientific and higher education institutions from all over the world are invited to participate, while global corporations and innovation agencies are welcome to become partners of the project. South Korea through Korea Institute for Advancement of Technology (KIAT) has become the first international partner of Up Great contests.

The Winter City contest is focused on the development of an unmanned vehicle capable to move in a city in difficult weather conditions with no road markings, under low visibility of the roadway and in the presence of traffic. The speed and the safety level shall be the same as of an average driver. According to the competition rules, a vehicle shall drive in an autonomous mode following the checkpoints of a testbed of 50 km long for less than 3 hours by independently plotting the route and noting other vehicles on the road, observing the traffic rules and without instigating other road users to break them. The assigned tasks and conditions have been developed by the expert group under the supervision of the Sberbank Robotics Laboratory. Yandex is the Technology partner of the Winter City Contest.

Two other Up Great contests, First Element. Air and First Element. Earth, focus on creating power units based on hydrogen fuel cells for vehicles that are comparable with conventional energy sources by efficiency. The competition tasks have been developed with the assistance of the Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The participants of the First Element. Air contest are required to develop a hydrogen fuel cell for small unmanned vehicles. The task is to develop a power unit based on fuel cells with capacity of 1.3 kW and mass specific energy of not less than 700 W*h/kg with the mass of not more than 7 kg. The designed power unit shall be installed on a special multicopter platform which should be able to stay in the air at cyclic flying mode for at least 3 hours.

First Element. Earth contest is focused on the development of hydrogen fuel cells for ground vehicles and amphibians: manned and unmanned bikes, cars and light motor boats. The power unit have to be 15 kW at the specific volumetric power value of 500 W*h/l, which volume shall not exceed 150l. The participants need to install the power unit on a car platform provided by the organizers, and then take part in the race on the go-cart track which will last for 3 hours.

The applications for Up Great Winter City call can be submitted until September 1, 2018. Examination of applications, following the results of which the teams will be admitted to the qualification tests, will be held in autumn 2018. The final testings of unmanned vehicles and determining the winner will take place from February to March 2019.

The applications for First Element. Earth and First Element. Air call can be submitted until October 1, 2018. The qualification stage will be from November to December 2018, and the final competitions will take place in May 2019.


Up Great Technology Contest Winter City

The prerequisite for the contest is the presence of significant and global technological barriers in the prospective segment of unmanned transport systems. Therefore this breakthrough will provide high-tech companies with the opportunity to achieve leading positions in this segment on the global market.

Today, the unresolved tasks in the field of unmanned vehicles are the following:

  • Moving in conditions of poor visibility and difficult weather conditions,
  • Confident response to static and dynamic obstacles,
  • Qualitative forecast of the trajectory of traffic of other road users and making the necessary actions on the basis of these data,
  • Qualitative positioning of unmanned vehicles when moving in urban and suburban development,
  • Confident movement in the presence of other road users.

One of the most important aspects of using unmanned vehicles is their assessing and understanding of the environment in order to make safe decisions. The key point here is that it can determine the exact location not only in the city or on the road but in its actual traffic lane with high accuracy. Great progress on this task is reached in ideal weather conditions, but in case of poor visibility and in severe weather conditions when sensors are exposed to snow, dirt or below-freezing temperatures, this task is one of the most crucial in the world.

According to statistics, there are more than 5 million accidents resulting in the death of about 1.2 million people occur in the world every year. 22% of them happen in bad weather conditions. Motor transport experts recognize the 90-60-30 formula. It means that the transition to unmanned vehicles can reduce the number of accidents by 90%, the transport infrastructure load by 60% and emissions by 30% correspondingly.

End-to-end solutions for driving unmanned vehicles in conditions of poor visibility and severe weather are in demand on the promising markets of NTI such as AutoNet, Neuronet, Seifnet, and the entire transport industry, as a whole.

Up Great Technology Contest "First Element. Earth and First Element. Air"

The task to efficiently replace traditional fuel is one of the most urgent for the transport industry at the global level, starting from rail and sea transport to cars and unmanned aerial vehicles in the mass market. This has the following prerequisites:

  • The continuous search for the ways to reduce fuel costs which, depending on the type of transport, make up to 50% of the operating expenses, by transport companies and manufacturers of vehicles,
  • The need to reduce emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere of the Earth (carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxides, etc.). Thus, about 25% of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere are due to different kinds of transport,
  • Instability in hydrocarbon markets, the quest for energy independence of different countries.

At the same time, there is a constant increase in the share of electric motors in vehicles, that on the one hand creates the demand for new types of electric power storage batteries for vehicles and, on the other hand, to new power units including hydrogen fuel cells.

Hydrogen fuel cells can both produce energy for the engine and be used to generate power for vehicle equipment. The advantages of hydrogen power units on fuel cells are:

  • Significantly higher efficiency in comparison with internal combustion engines,
  • Safety for the environment since the engine does not emit any harmful substances,
  • The ability of flexible configuration of the design to be used in a wide range of vehicles from ships to bicycles.

A barrier for mass usage of hydrogen fuel cells can be the limitations of the existing design of installations that cause higher costs and shorter operation of a hydrogen power unit.

Currently, the world is starting a real race to be the first to solve these problems and present the design of a mass unit. Cars on hydrogen fuel cells have been developed and are currently tested by Toyota Mirai, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Volkswagen, General Motors, Daimler AG, manufacturers from China, Brazil, etc. To introduce hydrogen fuel cells into sea transport in Europe, consortiums FellowSHIP and Fuel Cell Boat BV have been created. In Germany, Siemens has already started manufacturing U-212 submarines with fuel cells, the orders already placed from Greece, Italy, South Korea, and Israel.

Russian Venture Company (RVC)

RVC JSC is a state fund of funds, an institute of development of the venture industry of the Russian Federation. The main objectives of RVC's activities are: stimulating the creation of Russia’s own venture investment industry and fulfilling the functions of the Project Office of the National Technological Initiative (NTI).  The share capital of RVC JSC is more than RUB 30 billion. 100% of RVC’s capital belongs to the Russian Federation represented by the Federal Agency for State Property Management of the Russian Federation (Rosimuschestvo). The total number of funds, formed by RVC, has reached 26, with their total amount at RUB 35.7 billion. The share of RVC is RUB 22.7 billion. The number of innovative companies approved for investment by RVC funds has reached 223. The total volume of financial means approved for investment is RUB 18.2 billion.

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