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Thu, 06/08/2023 - 12:00

Russia's Yandex Says Launches Self-Driving Taxi in Moscow in Test Mode

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia's IT giant Yandex has launched unmanned taxis in Moscow in test mode, the company said on Wednesday.
"Yandex has launched a robotaxi in Moscow, a car-ordering service controlled by artificial intelligence. Robotaxis operate in test mode in the Yasenevo District every day from 7 am to 1 am," the company said in a statement.
Users will be able to order the robotaxi in the Yandex Go taxi app. There are currently about 40 pick-up and drop-off points in the district.
Initially, the self-driving car can only be ordered by those who have pre-registered for the service. The taxi will take only one adult passenger and each trip will cost 100 rubles ($1.22).
"According to the current legislation, there is always a test driver in the car to ensure the safety of the trip," Yandex added.
Andrey Karmatsky, Yandex's self-driving taxi service lead, told Sputnik that a total of 12,000 users pre-registered to test the service, and a few hundred users already used unmanned taxis.
"We will be adding more users, expanding the list and testing and looking at their feedback. We have a lot to learn and improve," he said, adding that the work of taxis in Yasenevo will allow the company to make conclusions about "where to expand next."
Alexander Tolmachev, a member of Russia's lower house's committee on transport, told Sputnik on Wednesday that no new legislature is required to greenlight the launch of unmanned taxis in test mode.
"An unmanned taxi looks like an audacious and fantastic phenomenon to many, but, in general, it is one of the options for the development of taxis. It is not the only logical continuation of its kind but an alternative that is currently in the test stage," Tolmachev said, adding that such taxi rides are regulated by the law on experimental legal regimes in Moscow and other Russia's regions and "a new legislative regulation is not required at this stage."
The IT giant began developing the autonomous vehicle system in early 2017. The first tests of robotaxis took place in 2018 in the village of Innopolis and later in Moscow. Since then, Yandex's unmanned cars have already driven more than 24 million kilometers (15 million miles), and the residents of Innopolis have made more than 60,000 trips.