Yandex Self-Driving Group, a unit of Yandex, the publicly-traded Russian tech giant, has announced a partnership with food delivery service GrubHub to be its multi-year robotic delivery provider across American college campuses. Yandex hopes to reach over 250 campuses over the course of this partnership, beginning with dozens of robots in the fall, according to a statement from Yandex Self-Driving CEO Dmitry Polishchuk.
Last September, Yandex’s self-driving unit spun out from a joint venture with Uber. In May this year, the company said it clocked a total 7 million autonomous miles, which was more than Waymo at the time. Yandex has been developing full-sized autonomous vehicle technology since 2017, which it’s tested in Tel Aviv, Israel and Ann Arbor, Michigan, as well as Innopolis, Russia via its robotaxi fleet. The company first began public deliveries on its six-wheeled, 150-pound robot, the Yandex.Rover, last April in Skolkovo, Russia, using the same self-driving technology stack as the company’s autonomous cars.
“The technology is definitely very complicated, but we can see that it has already reached the level when it can start being deployed either in form of delivery robots or robotaxi services in small towns or specific districts of big cities,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We believe that in three to four years the technology will reach the level where the car can drive as safe and as efficient as an experienced human driver in rush hour in the center of cities like Moscow or New York.”
Yandex’s approach to commercialization is unique. Of all the companies developing autonomous technology for cars, Yandex is going to market with its robots first, “and it seems to be a pretty efficient way to do it,” said the spokesperson. “It took us two years to get from the idea of making a delivery robot in June 2018 to signing such a solid commercial contract,” she said.
Courtesy: Tech Crunch