Russian internet giant Yandex has started testing autonomous delivery robots, the company said on Thursday.
The autonomous delivery robot has been designed for small-size cargos. Called Yandex.Rover after a space exploration device, the suitcase-sized vehicle can autonomously navigate the way along its route on city sidewalks at a walking pace.
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 move even in the dark.
“Yandex.Rover utilizes our achievements in self-driving,” says Dmitry Polishchuk, head of Self-Driving at Yandex. “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 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.
Yandex says that following the testing period, the Yandex.Rover might become available for other companies to purchase.
Yandex began testing its driverless cars in 2017. At the Skolkovo and Innopolis tech parks outside Moscow, driverless taxis operate in test zones.
At the end of 2018, Yandex received a license to operate in Israel and will begin U.S-based testing from June 2020.