Yandex, a Russian-based Internet giant, is joining forces with South Korea automobile manufacturer Hyundai to develop autonomous vehicle components.
The deal marks Yandex’s first OEM collaboration and comes after the South Korean automobile manufacturer‘s considerable investment in Ola, an India-based ride-hailing entity.
Both companies recently said that they have made an MOU agreement to develop the control systems for both level 4 and 5 vehicles, which are the automation categories described by the Society of Automotive Engineers’ as requiring zero or limited human intervention.
Following the partnership, the companies have come up with a self-driving car prototype.
Yandex and Hyundai Mobis, a Hyundai Motor Group affiliate, is expected to develop “out-of-the-box” control systems meant for taxi fleets and car manufacturers.
According to both companies, the partnership deal may expand into “other areas of cooperation,” like mapping, navigation, and speech technologies.
“Our self-driving technologies are unique and have already proven their scalability,” said Yandex CEO Arkady Volozh in a statement.
“Yandex’s self-driving cars have been successfully driving on the streets of Moscow, Tel Aviv, and Las Vegas, which means that the fleet can be expanded to drive anywhere.
It took us just two years to go from the first basic tests to a full-fledged public robotaxi service. Now, thanks to our agreement with Hyundai Mobis, we will be able to move even faster.”
The partnership is a noteworthy feat for Yandex, which started testing autonomous driving car prototypes back in 2017 before later unveiling a fully self-driving taxi service in mid-2018.
According to the Moscow-based company, Hyundai Mobis is among the 10 biggest car component manufacturers globally.
On the other hand, Hyundai Motor Group, the parent company behind notable brands such as Genesis, Kia, and Hyundai, is one of the leading five automotive manufactures in terms of shipment volume.
In the past few months, Yandex.taxi, an autonomous driving taxi service from Yandex, has expanded its operations to 15 nations globally, including Russia, Uzbekistan, Serbia, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, the Ivory Coast, Israel, Georgia, Estonia, Finland, Belarus, Finland, and Armenia.
In four years’ time, Yandex intends to come up with a vehicle without a steering wheel that will feature “human-level” driving capability in certain cities.
Allied Market Research revealed that until then, the self-driving car space will have risen from the estimated $54.33 billion recorded in 2019 to $556.67 billion by 2026, spearheaded by factors like ride-hailing and food delivery.
Yandex is currently trying to venture into the autonomous driving space but is experiencing competition from Daimler, which got a permit from the Chinese government to test autonomous vehicles that are powered by the Apollo platform on Beijing-based roads.
Baidu is another competitor that unveiled its autonomous driving buses in over 10 regions spread out across China earlier in 2019.
What’s more, Optimus Ride said in 2018 that it would create a level 4 car fleet in the greater Boston region, following news of Drive.ai’s expansion into Frisco and Arlington, Texas.
Nonetheless, Yandex has said that it has a competitive edge over such companies, as it is currently carrying out a considerable portion of its data testing in Russia, where the winters are icier and snowier.