The Google equivalent in every major market where Google doesn’t really play is making a self-driving car of some kind, and Russia is the latest to join the fray. Yandex is the company in question, which operates Russia’s leading search engine, along with a host of other going concerns. Add to that list a driverless minibus, which the tech company is creating in partnership with Russian truck maker Kamaz, NAMI, a government-funded research organization focused on the automotive industry and Daimler, which is already running its own separate tests with self-driving multi-rider transportation.
As reported by Fortune, the Yandex part of the puzzle will be contributions from its work in computer vision, AI and speech recognition tech, while NAMI will offer the testing and research facility and Kamaz will presumably lend its manufacturing prowess to actually building the micro-bus vehicles themselves.
Yandex isn’t wasting too much time getting its first foray into self-driving off the ground — Forbes says that NAMI will begin testing the bus on closed courses next year. The vehicles can seat 12 and have a max range of around 200 km (124 miles), which is about double the range of Olli, the self-driving 12-seat passenger bus operating now in Washington, DC. Yandex’s self-driving experiment will also let passengers specify their destination via smartphone app, making it a little bit more like an on-demand group taxi.