Uber’s Russian Partner, Yandex, has released a video of its self-driving cars in Ann Arbor, following unceasing long-term testing research in Michigan.
The company is in the race to be one of the top three companies for the number of miles an automated vehicle has traveled. Its fleet included fourth-generation Hyundai Sonatas with self-driving capability, which was a result of a partnership with Hyundai Mobis.
Yandex planned to conduct a ride-hailing service using their autonomous vehicle at the North American International Auto Show and had prepared a lot of other activities of the same type by mid-spring. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event was canceled, so the company modified its original plan and began to conduct autonomous driving research in Michigan instead.
“We are pleased to announce that we have chosen Ann Arbor, a world-class university town, as this location. The city’s wealth of research and engineering facilities and many bright young minds that call Ann Arbor home, make it the perfect testing ground for innovations in transportation,” stated the Russian tech giant in their press release.
One of the main reasons motivating Yandex in choosing Michigan as their third testing ground was the State’s regulations regarding autonomous vehicles actually encourage self-driving initiatives. Consequently, while in Moscow and Tel Aviv, the presence of an engineer behind the wheel was necessary to conduct the test, the tests will be pushed a little further this time, and there will be no passenger at all inside the vehicle. If the test is a success, it could help the manufacturer and his self-driving cars take a huge step towards the next level of autonomy.
Ann Arbor’s “more progressive regulatory environment,” will be an addition to the experience for their autonomous fleet, stated Dmitry Polishchuck, Head of Yandex Self Driving.
Polishchuck said that “Innopolis is the only testing location in Russia that allows self-driving cars to transport passengers without regulations, requiring the presence of an engineer behind the driver’s wheel. This is where we launched Europe’s first robotaxi service two years ago and, since then, have made thousands of trips without a driver behind the wheel.”
Yandex has completed around four million miles traveling autonomously with its fleet of 130 vehicles. The company is coming head-on with the American self-driving startup, Waymo, which completed over five million autonomous miles in February 2018. The company also climbed up the global ranking, becoming the third manufacturer to reach the one-millionth mile mark in October 2019.
Realizing the importance of self-driving cars and the opportunity they represent when it comes to ride-sharing services during this pandemic, upscaling the testing grounds is probably one of the best decisions Yandex has made. The two-year service in the Europian market has helped the organization gain popularity amongst the global environment of autonomous companies.
Furthermore, Yandex has a business model similar to that of Google, as they offer a search engine, an email platform, and other online services. And just like Google, Yandex has been investing in autonomous technology for quite some time now.
“The driving conditions and challenges of these locations ultimately help advance our self-driving system to better operate in new environments,” Yandex stated in a press release commenting the expansion to various locations.
Even though Yandex is still relatively new in the mind of most North-American, the company has already conducted tests in five locations: Moscow, Innopolis, and Skolkovo in Russia, Tel Aviv in Israel, and in Las Vegas. With that being said and based on Yandex’s recent rapid expansion, we will surely hear more about them very soon.