Yandex is operating a self-driving car in Las Vegas with just a safety engineer in the front passenger seat (NVO Mode). The company will be providing demonstration rides of its self-driving car on the public streets of Las Vegas starting from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino during CES 2019.
To prepare for CES, the team acquired a car locally and retrofitted it with the necessary sensors and hardware for self-driving operation. The team then used Yandex’s mapping technologies to build a custom HD map of the neighborhood around the hotel. Yandex’s proprietary self-driving software stack was then localized and optimized to the driving conditions of Las Vegas. The transformation of both the car and the software was completed in only one month. The route tests the Yandex self-driving car against unprotected left-hand turns, pedestrians, and busy traffic with speeds up to 45 mph.
Las Vegas was the first test location outside of Russia for Yandex’s self-driving car unit, and in addition to the CES demo, Yandex recently announced it is expanding its self-driving tests to Israel.
“We are excited to show our self-driving achievements to the CES community here in the US. After first building and testing vehicles in Moscow, the world’s second most congested city, and launching a successful robo-taxi program that is operating throughout the winter in two cities, coming to CES was a great opportunity to test our technology’s scalability and flexibility in a new environment. Similar to our robo-taxi program, our self-driving car in Las Vegas is operational with just a safety engineer in the front passenger seat, which is an important step in advancing our technology.” Dmitry Polishchuk, Head of Yandex Self-Driving.
Yandex first began working on driverless technology in early 2017, combining our expertise in machine learning, navigation, mapping tools, and cloud technologies. In May 2017, Yandex introduced its first prototype. Currently, Yandex is testing cars against all weather conditions across three countries and operating robo-taxi services in two cities in Russia. The two robo-taxi locations have delivered over 2000 passenger rides with just a safety engineer in the front passenger seat.