Yandex Blog

Yandex Teams up with Hyundai Mobis on Self-Driving Cars

When our self-driving car program began in 2017, our ultimate goal was to create true Level 5 autonomous vehicles; that is, cars that do not require driver intervention in any driving scenario.  Now in its third year, our self-driving team is getting ever closer to realizing this vision.  Since August, we successfully launched our public robotaxi service, expanded testing of the technology to Israel, and demoed one of our cars without a driver on public roads during CES 2019.   As we continue on our journey to develop advanced self-driving cars, today we’re excited to announce our first automotive collaboration.  

Yandex and Hyundai Mobis, one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, have agreed to begin working together to develop software and hardware systems for self-driving cars.  The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on March 18, 2019.  The ultimate goal of this collaboration will be to create a self-driving platform that can be used by any car manufacturer or taxi fleet.     

Yandex Hyundai Mobis MOU signing ceremony, March 18, 2019.

Hyundai Mobis brings strong experience in developing automotive technology such as driver assistance systems that rely on sensors, radars, and cameras to detect the cars’ surroundings.  Combining Hyundai Mobis’ expertise in automotive hardware and technology and Yandex’s established self-driving technologies, we aim to deliver a comprehensive, safe, and advanced self-driving vehicle platform.

Initial testing of the co-developed technology will be in self-driving Hyundai and Kia vehicles, which we ultimately plan to develop into a self-driving control system that can be used on a broad set of vehicles.  Our work with Hyundai Mobis will be a central part of our long-term vision of self-driving technology becoming a part of our everyday lives.

As we look ahead to expanding our robotaxi service and advancing our self-driving car to the highest level of autonomy, working with a global automotive supplier allows us to more quickly realize these goals.  Hyundai Mobis brings over 40 years of experience producing an array of vehicle hardware for companies around the world. Cooperating with a world class automotive supplier gives us a streamlined avenue for producing self-driving cars at scale.  Hyundai Mobis’ expertise in safety technology will also ensure our self-driving cars meet the highest standards for passenger safety. 

The first automotive agreement for our self-driving car team is a significant step forward for the program.  We’re enthusiastic about the future vehicles we will be able to produce and how this collaboration will help bring self-driving cars into the lives of more people than ever.

Yandex’s Seventh Annual Programming Competition Yandex.Algorithm Starts This Week

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. 

Each track was designed to test contestants with a variety of problem solving tasks. Historically, Yandex.Algorithm has focused on the algorithm track but last year it included more diverse problems such as optimization tasks.  Following positive feedback from the community on these changes, we designed the Yandex.Algorithm 2018 competition to include optimization and machine learning problems within separate applied science tracks.

The algorithm track is designed to follow its traditional format in which submitted solutions are run against test cases. The optimization track was developed with the help of our search algorithm engineers and our autonomous vehicle team members to require a multitude of creative approaches rather than a single solution. The optimization track answers will be evaluated and awarded points based on the test performances of submitted solutions. The machine learning track tasks require contestants to create models, which will be evaluated based on how well specified parameters can be predicted using the models.

Yandex.Algorithm contestants are competing to advance their programming capabilities in addition to cash prizes.  The winner of the algorithmic track will take home approximately a $5000 cash prize and the second and third place winners will receive $2600 and $1600 respectively.  The winners in the other two categories will each receive approximately $1800 and runners up in these new tracks will also be awarded cash prizes as well.  Over 500 of the top performing participants will receive a Yandex.Algorithm t-shirt.

The three tracks will run consecutively in order to give all participants the opportunity to try their hand at solving every type of a problem in the Yandex.Algorithm 2018 competition. The first qualification round for the algorithmic track will take place on February 17th. The 25 best performers in the three qualifying rounds of the algorithmic track will be invited to Saint Petersburg on May 19th for the finals.  The optimization track and the machine learning track will run online competitions starting in March.

Interested programmers can register and find all relevant information for Yandex.Algorithm in both English and Russian on the competition website.  Congratulations to the 2017 winner, Gennady Korotkevich, a Belarusian information technology student from Saint Petersburg, who has won the top Yandex.Algorithm prize four times! Good luck to all of the 2018 participants!

Yandex.Health Provides Russian Users With Accessible Medical Advice for the Modern Age

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.

The Yandex.Health application enables users to obtain affordable, on-the-go health advice from qualified medical professionals 24 hours a day, seven days a week anywhere an internet connection exists. All Yandex.Health consultants are experienced Moscow-based medical professionals certified by a special Yandex.Health training course. Users can complete their initial medical consultation via videoconference or text for 99 rubles ($1.70), and follow up appointments for 499 rubles ($8.50). 

Yandex.Health currently offers medical advice to Russian-speaking users across Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and several countries across Europe. The Yandex.Health app now holds the top ranking in the “Free Medical” app store category after launching earlier this year. It is the most downloaded online consultation service in Russia with thousands of consultations and counting. 

The consultation process is designed to provide patients with easy-to-access medical advice from dedicated professionals. For example, if a user in Moscow has a rash, the process begins with a brief text conversation where the user can describe symptoms and send relevant images to the first available doctor. If the user is unable to use video, the doctor can continue the consultation and learn more about the user’s symptoms via text message. The user will then receive a detailed report with doctor recommendations that can be viewed anytime in the Yandex.Health application.

In addition to consultations, Yandex.Health offers a feature for users to order medication online and pick it up in person. This added service combines Yandex’s data and technology with the resources and experience of pharmacies across Russia with information on roughly 20,000 different types of medicine from over 14,000 participating pharmacies in 78 regions across Russia. 

“Yandex constantly aims to improve the quality of everyday life for users online and offline,” says Grigory Bakunov, Head of Yandex.Health. “Yandex.Health provides our users with more accessible medical advice so people can better monitor and manage their health with the help of qualified healthcare professionals.” 

Yandex.Health changes the way users address their health needs by providing reliable, quick, and convenient online medical advice to users who might otherwise use online searches to diagnose themselves or wait for an appointment with a medical expert.  While Yandex.Health does not replace the need for in-person medical care, the application empowers patients with a reliable resource to virtually manage their health. As users become ever more dependent on their mobile devices, we are excited that Russian users now can now easily connect with doctors and take care of their health from home or on the go.

Yandex.Health is available as a desktop service and for iOS and Android for Russian-speaking users in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and some countries in Europe. For more information on Yandex.Health and its availability, visit

Yandex Turns 20

On September 23, 1997, the Yandex search engine was unveiled at the SofTool Exhibition. Soon after launching Yandex, our cofounders Ilya Segalovich and Arkady Volozh saw an opportunity to provide users with more than a search engine. “The user’s journey doesn’t end with search. We understood that very early on,” said Yandex CEO Arkady Volozh. In our first five years, Yandex added a number of services, including email, news and image search, eCommerce, and online payments. We also launched Yandex.Direct, the Russian Internet’s first contextual ad placement service for businesses who wanted to advertise on Yandex.

In addition to helping users find the things they want online, by the mid-2000s, Yandex began supporting users’ offline navigation needs as well. In 2004, we launched Yandex.Maps and two years later, we began displaying traffic information for users in Moscow, helping them better traverse the city’s notoriously congested streets. “Over the years, the internet has not only grown in size, it has also penetrated into all spheres of life,” said Dmitry Ivanov, Head of Discovery Products, who joined Yandex in 2003. “At Yandex, we’ve kept pace with this growth, expanding our services across many areas of users’ lives.”

Longtime Yandex employee and IR Director, Katya Zhukova recalls one of her favorite memories from the early days, “We constantly thought about our users and joked that every new product had to be designed simply enough that anyone, including Arkady Volozh’s mother, could use it. We called it 'Volozh’s Mothers Test.'" A combination of top tech talent, as well as best-in-class technology, have enabled Yandex to make products that pass the test.

In 2007, we opened the Yandex School of Data Analysis, a free Master’s-level program in Computer Science and Data Analysis. Many graduates have gone on to work at Yandex and grow our machine learning technologies. “I truly believe that it is not just the deep expertise in machine learning, AI, neural networks and the brightest, most talented employees, but also this user-oriented approach that has brought us to where we are today,” says Katya.  

By 2011, the world began to take notice. We held our initial public offering on the NASDAQ stock market. We also launched Yandex.Taxi, our market-leading on-demand transportation service.

Grigory Bakunov who leads all health care related initiatives for Yandex and has been with Yandex for over 15 years describes the maturation of Yandex over time as “we started as a typical startup: do it faster, fail, do it again but another way.  But year by year we grew a full stack of new technologies and systems. Some of them are now state of the art and at the bleeding edge of computer science.”

In the past five years we have focused on personalizing our products and services to the increasingly mobile needs of users and businesses. 2017 has been a breakout year for Yandex. Our Yandex.Taxi business merged with Uber to form a new company that will serve 127 cities across six countries. We announced a joint venture with Sberbank to further develop our Yandex.Market platform. We also open-sourced a machine learning library based on gradient boosting called CatBoost. 2017 also ushered in greater choice for millions of Russian Android users who can now select their preferred search engine on their mobile devices.

“As I reflect back on the past 20 years, I want to thank the entire team at Yandex, and our users, for joining us on this journey,” said Yandex CEO, Arkady Volozh. “We remain committed to our mission helping users better navigate the online and offline world. Wherever the destination –  online, offline, or something new altogether – users can trust Yandex to take them there.”