Yandex self-driving car
Yandex self-driving car is a robotaxi project of the Russian-based internet corporation Yandex. The first driverless prototype launched in May 2017. As of 2018, functional service was launched in Russia with prototypes also being tested in Israel and the US.
In June 2017, Yandex.Taxi released a video demonstrating its driverless car technology. The prototype vehicle was a heavily modified Toyota Prius+ hybrid wagon/compact MPV equipped with three LiDAR optical distance sensors by Velodyne, six radar units, and six cameras and a GNSS sensor for navigation, with Intel CPUs and NVIDIA GPUs using the GNU operating system with the Linux kernel.
In November 2017, the results of a winter test were presented. The car drove successfully along snowy roads, despite the increased difficulties presented by the snow. The vehicle covered 300 km on a closed track.
On May 29, 2018, free demo rides were offered to the public. Yandex reported that 700 passengers were given rides during the 10 hours of the demo. In June 2018, a long-distance autonomous test ride was accomplished for a distance of 780 km over about 11 hours.
Robo-taxi service was launched on a trial status in August 2018 in the university town of Innopolis in western Russia's Republic of Tatarstan. Service is free during this trial. There is no one behind the wheel during the rides, and Yandex engineers occupy passenger seats and act as safety observers. In February 2020, it was reported that over 5,000 autonomous passenger rides were made in Innopolis.
At the end of 2018, Yandex obtained a license to use its self-driving cars on public roads in Nevada. In early 2019, the driverless cars carried out demo rides for the guests of the CES 2019 in Las Vegas. Unlike other prototypes demonstrated at the exhibition, the cars were circulating the streets of the city without any human control. There was no engineer at the wheel, only one in the passenger seat to take control of the car in case of emergency. In January 2020 Yandex provided autonomous rides for CES guests for the second time.
In December 2018, the company received permission from the Israeli Transport Ministry to test its driverless cars on public roads. This makes Israel the third country where the company is testing its self-driving vehicles. In September, 2019 the testing territory was expanded to include the city center.
In October 2019 Yandex made an announcement its self-driving cars passed 1 million miles in fully autonomous driving since it started testing the technology. Four other companies which previously announced similar or bigger distances are Waymo, GM Cruise, Baidu and Uber.
On October 22, 2019 the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) selected Yandex and four other highly automated vehicle providers for the 2020 NAIAS Michigan Mobility Challenge. Ten Yandex self-driving sedans were to provide public rides in downtown Detroit during the autoshow in June 2020.
In November 2019, the company presented its autonomous delivery robot Yandex.Rover, based on the same self-driving technology the company is using for its autonomous cars. The robot is the size of a suitcase and navigates sidewalks at the speed of a pedestrian. As part of the initial testing phase, Yandex.Rover is operating on the Yandex 7,000 employees campus in Moscow, transporting small packages from one building to another.
In December 2019 Yandex introduced in-house lidars. One is a solid state lidar with 120 degree field of view and the second rotating one provides a 360-degree view of its surroundings. The company claims that using its own lidars will help Yandex save up to 75% on the bill of sensors, which are currently one of the most expensive parts of an autonomous vehicle. Yandex's self-made lidars are deployed in its test fleet in and around Moscow.
In February 2020, Yandex announced its self-driving cars doubled the October mileage and have passed 2 million miles to date.
In March 2019, an agreement was signed between Yandex and Hyundai to work on autonomous car systems. They will develop control systems for autonomous vehicles for level 4 and level 5, the categories of automation defined as requiring limited to no human intervention.
The objective of the partnership is to provide a turnkey solution, which can be used by other manufacturers. The companies plan to show the first prototype of the joint project by the end of 2019.
The companies noted that it is also possible to expand cooperation in the areas such as speech, navigation, and mapping technologies.
Yandex discloses only the number of autonomous kilometers driven by cars in autonomous mode, but does not disclose the disengagement rate.
As for all autonomous machines, disengagement rate (the frequency in which human drivers were forced to take control) is crucial. Due to the lack of standards for the data which is indicated in the reports, companies are allowed to exclude certain incidents in a manner which is not standardised, making direct comparison impossible.
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