Europe’s First Driverless Taxis to Launch in Russia

Mikhail Metsel / TASS

Russian tech giant Yandex has announced the launch of Europe’s first driverless taxi, which will hit the road in Innopolis, also known as the “Russian Silicon Valley.”

Yandex unveiled a driverless car prototype last year designed to operate under its Yandex.Taxi service. Companies across the world have been competing, with varying levels of success, to put a safe self-driving car on the road. 

On Tuesday, Yandex announced a deal with officials in Russia’s Tatarstan republic to test its self-driving cars on the roads of Innopolis, a young city in the suburbs of Kazan built to spur IT innovation. 

“Innopolis became the first city in Europe where you can use a ‘driverless’ for daily trips,” Yandex said.

A promo video on Yandex.Taxi’s YouTube page shows a three-seat hatchback cruising the streets of Innopolis, stopping in front of pedestrians and outmaneuvering other vehicles. 

The car allegedly made an 11-hour journey from Moscow to Kazan in June, during which Yandex said the co-pilot only had to intervene 1 percent of the time.

Yandex said two of its driverless vehicles will offer free shuttles around five central locations in Innopolis.

A test engineer will occupy one of the taxi’s three seats at all times, Yandex said.

“We understand that a car without a driver is a new phenomenon for our roads,” the company said. 

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