In every major market where Google doesn’t really play—or is banned from (ahem, China)—there’s a search engine company working on its version of a self-driving car. China’s Baidu is planning to make self-driving cars a consumer reality by 2018. And now it's Russia's search giant, Yandex's, turn.
Yandex is Google’s biggest rival in Russia, which offers search engine and mobile services along with a host of over items. A new addition to Yandex’s list of services is automated driving.
For its first foray into driverless vehicles, the Russian company has teamed up with truck manufacturer Kamaz, Daimler, and the government-backed NAMI automotive research facility to create a driverless minibus, Fortune reports. Yandex is expected to contribute its knowledge in computer vision, artificial intelligence, and speech recognition to the project.
Details about the project are scarce. NAMI said it plans to start testing the bus in early 2017—but not on the open roads yet. The minibus will be designed to accommodate 12 passengers, and will cover a distance of around 200 kilometers (124 miles) before it needs to be recharged, according to the research facility. Passengers will use a smartphone app to specify their destinations.