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Hyundai Signs Deal With Russia's Yandex for Autonomous Cars

Alexandra Maryasova / Moskva News Agency

A Hyundai Motor Group unit and Russia’s biggest technology company Yandex NV will jointly develop autonomous vehicles based the South Korean automotive giant’s cars.

Carmakers and tech companies are racing to rollout self-driving cars. Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler and BMW have set aside traditional rivalries, while Volvo Cars and Baidu Inc. have joined forces to develop robotaxis in China.

The first stage of the joint venture between Yandex and Hyundai Mobis Co., the de-facto holding company of the Korean group, will see the two companies working on developing a prototype driverless car, the Russian technology firm said in a statement Tuesday. The deal will also build an autonomous control system to be marketed to rival car manufacturers and car-sharing startups.

Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine that successfully expanded to online taxi and swallowed Uber Technologies Inc. operations in the country, started testing self-driving cars in 2017. Last year, it started first robotaxi in a standalone Russian city and announced testing in Israel and Las Vegas.

Euisun Chung, the son of Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo, has brought in a dozen executives from German auto brands to Hyundai and is in a rush to transform the Korean auto group into a technology-oriented automaker with new deals and partnerships.

The Korean group’s units include Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., which said in January said they plan start to selling autonomous vehicles in various smart cities from 2021 with a goal of launching fully autonomous vehicles by 2030.

Last year Yandex was also in talks with Renault SA to explore adding autonomous driving features to the French carmaker’s locally-made vehicles. A spokesperson for Yandex said the company is still in talks with a number of carmakers and autoparts makers, but declined to comment on the status of these discussions.

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