Last week the Yandex.Taxi driverless car team passed another major milestone on our mission to achieve a level 5 self-driving car, which began with the May 2017 prototype launch. The Yandex.Taxi autonomous car safely navigated the streets of Moscow after a recent snowstorm managing interactions with traffic, pedestrians, parked vehicles and other road hazards on snowy and icy streets. The drive, which occurred during light precipitation and -6 C (21 F) temperatures, was an advanced test challenging the vehicle with winter weather conditions on public roads.
Since 2011 Yandex has been running a programming competition, Yandex.Algorithm, to challenge competitive coders and advance the machine learning community. Yandex.Algorithm welcomes coding contestants from around the world to enter up to three tracks of the 2018 competition: algorithm track, optimization track, and ML track.
At Yandex our mission is to help consumers and businesses better navigate the online and offline world. And when it comes to digital advertising this means working to make the Internet a place where users have enjoyable high-quality experiences and businesses can reach their audiences in effective ways.
As the leading search engine in Russia, everyday Yandex provides results to over 250 million user queries. At the end of the year our research team compiles these queries and analyzes them to publish a list of the year’s top search trends. Usually we don’t publish this in English but since we heard the world was wondering what makes the average Russian laugh, cry, and pay attention, we thought we’d translate their research to English this year.
50 million monthly users rely on Yandex services to help them better navigate the online and offline world. We are constantly working to improve our search and other services by listening to our users and responding to their needs. With the input of our users, we discovered an upward trend in health-related search queries, which are the most searched topic on mobile devices today. In response to an increased dependence on online resources for real-time answers relating to health, Yandex recently launched Yandex.Health, a mobile application that allows Russian users to connect to doctors, regardless of location.
Like the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, Russia is known for its vast size and wide range of weather. In particular, many people associate Russia with its distinctive harsh winters that last about five months of the year. The coldest stretch of the Russian winter begins in November and extends through March. During these months, temperatures can regularly reach as low as –34°C (–30°F) in Siberia, one of the coldest regions of Russia that also experiences over 1,000 mm of precipitation in some areas.
Over the years Yandex has launched several education initiatives ranging from learning platforms to high school and master’s level courses. 2017 marks the 10-year anniversary of one of our most impactful educational initiatives, the Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA), a free Master's-level program in Computer Science and Data Analysis. In Russia, Yandex is privileged to have access to some of the most talented math and science minds in the world but 10 years ago, Yandex co-founders Arkady Volozh and Ilya Segalovich realized there was a real need to foster these talents and offer students a program for advanced data science.
Today we are excited to officially introduce the world to a new AI assistant, Alice. Alice speaks excellent Russian and integrates multiple services in one centralized tool. Built to authentically interact with people as they go about their day, Alice understands users’ natural language requests and provides contextually relevant answers.
Today Yandex.Translate launched a hybrid machine translation system that combines neural and statistical approaches to machine translation to deliver our users an even higher quality translation that utilizes the complementary strengths of both translation models. The new system first translates users’ queries using both a statistical and a neural machine translation model. Next, CatBoost, our gradient boosting library ranks the outputs of each model, ultimately selecting the highest quality translation.
Today, Yandex released a new version of its search platform, incorporating two important elements:
· An upgraded version of a deep neural network based search algorithm called “Korolyov,” named after a town northeast of Moscow that has long served as the center of Russia’s space exploration program.
· Incorporating Yandex.Toloka, a mass-scale crowd-sourced platform for search assessors into Yandex MatrixNet.
Starting this month, Android users in Russia are presented with a choice screen in Chrome Mobile browser allowing them to select their preferred search engine. Previously, Google search was the default search on Chrome on all Android devices; a different search engine could only be selected by accessing the application settings. Now, with the most recent version of Chrome Mobile (v.60), users are prompted to select their default search engine when the Chrome app launches. This is a huge milestone for Russian users and something we have been working towards for a long time.
Yandex is proud to announce Yandex.Radar, a new analytics tool that provides the most accurate search engine and browser usage data available for the internet market in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey. Yandex.Radar allows webmasters to quickly and easily segment search engine and browser usage data by device type and operating system. For example, users can analyze Yandex Browser on different platforms.
Recent developments in machine learning have accelerated its transition from a computer science research area to a technology that drives numerous customer applications. One of the most buzzed about methods leading this transition is deep learning. At Yandex, our homegrown deep neural networks are an important part of the machine learning portfolio that helps sustain our market-leading performance in search, speech recognition and synthesis, vision applications and machine translation. At the same time, we’ve also integrated many other forms of machine learning across our products and services.
Yandex is excited to announce it is ramping up its cloud platform initiative, Yandex.Cloud. Over the last year we have been exploring and experimenting with a cloud initiative that would combine our network of state-of-the-art data centers across Western Europe and Russia, our developer talent, and our deep expertise in machine learning and data mining to provide businesses a high-performance cloud computing platform. Today we are excited to take the next step and further expand on the Yandex.Cloud vision.
Jane Zavalishina is the CEO of Yandex Data Factory, a spin-off of Yandex founded in 2014 to provide machine learning solutions to enterprises. In this post, Jane explains how YDF’s business has evolved since its launch, and why industrial AI is now in focus of its strategy.
Yandex’s on-demand transportation service Yandex.Taxi unveils its autonomous car project. The prototype of a self-driving car the company has developed is a step towards a comprehensive set of driverless technologies for application across a wide range of industries.