Yandex, the largest online search engine company in Russia, has started testing a delivery robot. (See video below.)
The company has been following in the footsteps of similarly large search engine companies around the world – such as Google in the US, and Baidu in China – by investing in research and development of autonomous vehicles.
Earlier this year, Yandex signed a partnership agreement with Hyundai Mobis on self-driving cars which aims to build a self-driving platform that can be used by any car manufacturer or taxi fleet.
The autonomous delivery robot Yandex has been showcasing is designed for small-size cargos.
Called Yandex.Rover after a space exploration device, a suitcase-sized vehicle can autonomously navigate the way along its route on city sidewalks at a walking pace.
Yandex.Rover utilizes company’s achievements in self-driving.
A number of Yandex.Rovers are already on the road, carrying small packages on the premises of the Yandex headquarters in Moscow between the office and the stop of the company’s bus that connects all other Yandex offices in the city.
The rover moves completely autonomously, albeit under remote supervision for the duration of testing.
It can recognize objects, plan the route, stop for pedestrians or animals, and avoid obstacles. Thanks to its lidar, it can confidently move even in the dark.
Dmitry Polishchuk, head of self-driving at Yandex, says: “Yandex.Rover utilizes our achievements in self-driving.
“We have adapted our existing technologies for new challenges and a new vehicle with a different set of sensors, so the development did not take as much time as it would have if we had to do it all from scratch.
“I believe robots like this will have a variety of applications in the near future. They can, for example, become indispensable for the ‘last mile’ delivery.”
Moving forward, Yandex.Rover may seamlessly fit into the Yandex ecosystem.
It can be delivering orders for restaurant delivery service Yandex.Eats, groceries for local grocery delivery service Yandex.Lavka, goods for online marketplace Beru, or operating across the company’s warehouses.
Following the testing period, Yandex.Rover might become available for other companies to purchase.