Here Comes Russia’s Driverless Minibus

August 25, 2016, 1:46 PM UTC
Concept for driverless minibus developed by NAMI, Kamaz and Yandex.
Concept for driverless minibus developed by NAMI, Kamaz and Yandex.

Google’s big competitor in Russia, Yandex, has services to rival its U.S. counterpart’s efforts in search, mobile, and much more. Now it’s also diving into the field of automated driving.

Yandex (YNDX) announced a partnership on Wednesday with Russian truck manufacturer Kamaz, whose shareholders include the Russian government, Daimler (DDAIF), and the government-backed NAMI automotive research facility.

The deal revolves around the development of a driverless minibus shuttle. Yandex will bring to the party its expertise in computer vision, artificial intelligence, and speech recognition.

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This is Yandex’s first foray into driverless vehicles. Details about the tie-up remain scarce, but NAMI said it intended to start testing the bus early next year—though not on the open roads just yet.

NAMI said the minibus would be able to accommodate 12 passengers and would have a range of around 200 kilometers (124 miles) before needing recharging.

Passengers will be able to specify their destinations using a smartphone app that connects to Yandex’s cloud.

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Yandex also revealed a separate deal with Kamaz that will see its services embedded in trucks’ onboard computers.

Yandex already has deals with Toyota and Honda to see its navigation and web-browsing tools embedded in the car-makers’ vehicles in the Russian market. A spokesman said the firm was also talking to manufacturers in other countries.

“Our interests in the connected-car market are not limited to Russia,” Yandex’s spokesman told Fortune.

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