Moscow — Russian high-tech giant Yandex plans to begin testing self-driving cars in Moscow this year, allowing adventurous mascots to soon be able to travel parts of Moscow in unmanned taxis. , The company said on Wednesday.
Yandex, which operates many services from online search to food delivery, has been testing autonomous driving technology in Russia, Israel and the United States for over three years.
In a statement, Yandex said Robotaxis will be available to specific customers through its Yandex.Go application in a district of Moscow.
“Launching in Yasenevo is the first step in a large Yandex project to launch an unmanned taxi,” the company said. “Over time, more cars, more places to go, and more people can call unmanned taxis.”
Russian law does not yet allow self-driving cars to drive unattended, except in special economic zones such as the city of Inopolis in the Tatarstan region.
Restrictions on use in certain areas of large cities may be partially lifted after the law comes into force this year.
About 170 self-driving cars from Yandex have traveled over 14 million kilometers (8.7 million miles). The company also has self-driving robots for food delivery and is already operating on several US university campuses through a partnership with online food ordering company GrubHub.
Yandex owns a 73% stake in the Yandex Self-Driving Group (SDG) and has agreed to purchase the remaining shares from Uber by the end of the year.
By Gleb Stolyarov