Yandex Blog

YSDA-HSE’s Annual Machine Learning Summer School Heads to Germany

We’ve long felt that being one of Europe’s largest tech companies means we have a responsibility to help educate current and future generations of data scientists.  We’re continually looking for ways to advance machine learning for our users and the greater AI community, and one way of doing that is to encourage data science learning.  Our education initiatives offer opportunities for a broad range of learners, from those interested in online courses to professionals looking for career advancement in computer science.  Many of our education programs stem from our collaborations with higher education institutions, which enable us to work with the brightest scientific minds to teach diverse topics in machine learning. 

The annual Machine Learning in High Energy Physics summer school which we help organize is an excellent example of our commitment to academic collaboration.  The Yandex School of Data Analysis and the Laboratory of Methods for Big Data Analysis at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (HSE) have annually staged the summer school since 2015.  Each year, we work with a different scientific partner in Europe to host the summer program.  This year, the DESY research center in Hamburg, Germany, will host the fifth MLHEP summer school from July 1st to July 10th.  The program will welcome 71 postgraduates and postdoctoral researchers from 17 countries, with most coming from the EU, the United States, and Russia.  

The MLHEP summer school focuses on the emerging fields of data analysis and computational research in High Energy Physics (HEP), also known as particle physics.  Machine learning helps solve essential problems in HEP that range from online data filtering and reconstruction to offline data analysis. Over ten days, students at the summer school will have both a theoretical and practical introduction to machine learning in HEP, covering topics from decision trees to deep learning and hyperparameter optimisation.  Students will have the opportunity to apply what they learn with concrete examples and hands-on tutorials.

Participants in previous years have come from all over the world with diverse backgrounds to enhance their machine learning skills.  

“During the MLHEP school, I widened my understanding of machine learning methods,” says Mikkel Bjorn, a DPhil student in Elementary Particle Physics at the University of Oxford.  “I learned new ideas about where the techniques we studied can be useful in the work of myself and my group.” 

Alexey Kharlamov, a recent graduate of HSE, adds that “Most of all I liked the atmosphere of the program, which cultivated an interest in machine learning as a result of working with both motivated students and excellent teachers who love their subject.  In such an environment, it’s exciting to develop your data science skills.”

The MLHEP summer program emphasizes both theoretical knowledge and practical application to ensure students come away with applicable skills.  We organize a related machine learning competition that spans two to three months to provide a continued opportunity for students to apply their knowledge.  The competition is inspired by Yandex’s long-standing relationship with CERN, where researchers from Yandex have been working with physicists to solve issues related to matter and energy.  In particular, students will be creating solutions related to the Large Hadron Collider beauty experiment at CERN. The competition will require students to process particle information using modelling techniques.  The two-part contest will be similar to Kaggle machine learning competitions and take place in a co-learning environment, encouraging students to work together to solve challenges.

Lecturers from the Faculty of Computer Science at HSE, a department Yandex co-founded, will teach most of the sessions.  As we’re always eager to promote an atmosphere of collaboration in our education initiatives, we’re excited to announce they will be joined by several guest lecturers from Facebook, Oracle, Caltech, and more, who will be teaching sessions on causal inference, probabilistic programming, and other machine learning topics.

The MLHEP summer school is yet another exciting opportunity for Yandex to collaborate with academia and encourage data science learning.  For more information about the program, please visit the website and follow @yandexcom on Twitter to get updates during the summer school!

New Version of Yandex.Auto Offers Deeper Car Connectivity

Earlier this week, we announced that our in-car infotainment system, Yandex.Auto, will ship with millions of new Renault, Nissan, AVTOVAZ/LADA vehicles in Russia.  This expansion will build on the hundreds of thousands of cars that already integrate Yandex.Auto to provide more drivers with an easy and safe way to access their favorite Yandex services.

Today, we’re excited to share that by the end of the year we will be rolling out a new version of Yandex.Auto that will offer an enhanced connected car experience with more smart functionalities for managing driving tasks and controlling the vehicle.

Yandex.Auto will automate many routine driving tasks to make driving as simple as possible.  A parking feature will detect when drivers have parked in a paid area and Yandex.Auto will automatically add time to the meter if it expires.  Yandex.Auto will save parking spot locations as well, so drivers can easily use their smartphones to find their car. By establishing deeper integration with the vehicle, Yandex.Auto will also maintain the vehicle’s location in areas with limited reception, such as tunnels.

The new version of Yandex.Auto will provide more options for users to control the vehicle with their smartphones and our intelligent assistant, Alice.  Drivers will be able to ask Alice to lock and unlock the doors, control the windows, start the engine, and open the trunk through Yandex.Auto.  For instance, users will be able to remotely ask Alice to start the car and turn on the climate controls.

“Technology is making driving easier and safer,” says Roman Chernin, Head of Yandex Geolocations Services.  “As drivers turn to automation and voice-control to use their cars, vehicles are coming to resemble tech like smartphones and computers.  With the new Yandex.Auto, we’re taking a major step towards the next generation of connected cars. The updates coming later this year will automate many tasks for drivers, such as paying for parking.  We strive to provide our users with the safest driving experience, and the new version of Yandex.Auto helps us realize this vision.”

Various new Toyota, Nissan, Renault, and Chery models have Yandex.Auto preinstalled, in addition to almost 10,000 vehicles in our car sharing fleet, Yandex.Drive.  Owners of select models from carmakers such as Volkswagen, Škoda, and Hyundai can also replace the factory-standard infotainment system with an aftermarket Yandex.Auto solution.  

Yandex.Auto

With the purchase of a head unit, drivers can have Yandex.Auto installed on compatible cars at authorized service centers for free.  For the first six months, Yandex provides unlimited data for Yandex apps and services within the Yandex.Auto platform, and 1 GB per month for third-party services.  Yandex.Auto also comes with a free six-month subscription to Yandex.Music.

For more information about Yandex.Auto visit auto.yandex.

How Yandex Brings Nowcasting to Russians from Coast to Coast with Yandex.Weather

Knowing the weather forecast is a central part of our daily lives.  The weather can affect how we dress for the day and if we walk to work or hail a taxi, for example.  At Yandex, we appreciate that having an accurate weather forecast is critical to navigating daily routines.  That’s why we developed our own weather forecasting tech, Meteum, which has enabled Yandex.Weather to be the first and only service in Russia to feature nowcasting in weather predictions.  Today, we’re excited to announce that, after adding data from a second satellite, nowcasting is now available for nearly all 53 million monthly Yandex.Weather users in Russia, expanding from its initial rollout in European Russia.

When we set out to create an intelligent weather service, we realized it was an excellent opportunity to apply our machine learning expertise to something that people depend on every day, especially as Russian users lacked an accurate, intuitive weather service.  Yandex.Weather incorporates deep learning AI technologies to provide users with reliable weather reports.  Our Meteum tech, the backbone of Yandex.Weather, combines traditional weather models with machine learning to produce highly accurate weather predictions.  Our weather service became even more precise in 2017 after we introduced hyperlocal nowcasting, providing minute-by-minute precipitation predictions within a two-hour window based on a user’s location.

We’ve also continued to improve how people can access Yandex.Weather and ensure it is always available in the most convenient ways possible.  Over the past few years, as the Yandex ecosystem of products and services has grown, Yandex.Weather has grown with it.  One of the most popular uses of Yandex.Weather is through the Yandex app, which offers a fluid user-experience across our various services, including localized weather notifications so our users can plan accordingly.  We’ve also integrated Yandex.Weather with our intelligent assistant, Alice.  Users can ask their Alice-equipped devices about the forecast, whether they are on the go or at home.  Alice shares weather updates to users on their phones, laptops, connected cars, and smart speakers.

Yandex's Alice telling the weather

Alice is asked what the weather is in Moscow

With the expansion of nowcasting, our users in locations from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean can now receive hyperlocal weather updates through a variety of Yandex products.  Fishers in Vladivostok can see notifications informing them of any precipitation coming in the next couple hours, while users in Yakutsk, one of the coldest cities on Earth, can ask Alice just how many layers they should wear before heading outside.  Below, a Yandex.Weather user in downtown Yakutsk can see that on this relatively mild day they can head out with just a raincoat, or wait out the rain for half an hour.

Yandex.Weather with nowcasting

We’re able to offer nowcasting to a greater number of Yandex.Weather users now that we have access to data from a second satellite, the Himawari-8.  Previously, one stationary weather satellite, the Meteosat-8 over East Africa, provided the data for Yandex.Weather’s nowcasting.  The Himawari-8’s position over New Guinea provides Meteum with weather data from a larger area that Meteosat-8 doesn’t cover.  As a result, Yandex.Weather users in Siberia and the Russian Far East now have hyperlocal nowcasting for the first time.  Thanks to the positioning of the satellites, Yandex.Weather can even provide users with nowcasting for a wide variety of locations outside our primary market of Russia, stretching from London to Shanghai.  In the future, Yandex.Weather engineers plan to pull data from a diverse range of weather satellites so the service’s nowcasting can be offered to users wherever they may be in the world.

While our users east of the Ural Mountains now have access to minute-by-minute forecasting throughout the Yandex ecosystem, they’ve long been able to use Yandex.Weather for Russia’s most accurate hourly and daily weather predictions.  When comparing weather predictions in Russia to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), Yandex.Weather is up to 42% more accurate in predicting hourly precipitation, and up to 28% more accurate when predicting the 10-day temperature forecast.

Accurate weather forecasts are not only vital to how our users’ plan their daily routines but can also influence how they interact with various Yandex services.  We will continue to innovate our weather service for users and explore new ways to incorporate Yandex.Weather’s forecasting throughout our ecosystem.

To check out Yandex.Weather for yourself, give the website or the iOS and Android apps a try today!

Yandex Becomes Official Supplier of Infotainment Systems for Renault, Nissan, and AVTOVAZ/LADA

We launched the Yandex.Auto in-vehicle infotainment system in 2017 with the goal of offering our users an easy and safe way to access their favorite Yandex services while on the move.  Since then, Yandex.Auto infotainment system has been installed in over a hundred thousand new cars and has also been deployed in almost 10,000 cars in the Yandex.Drive car-sharing fleet.

Today, we are thrilled to announce that Yandex has become the official supplier of in-car infotainment systems for Russia’s best-selling automotive brands – Renault, Nissan, and AvtoVAZ/LADA.  Drivers of Renault, Nissan, and AvtoVAZ/LADA cars will now be able to use Yandex’s intelligent voice assistant, Alice, to safely interact with Yandex’s most popular services while on the road.  Drivers can ask Alice for directions, search for points of interest, launch turn-by-turn navigation with real-time traffic data and stream their favorite music from the cloud.

"Over the next five years, more than two million Renault, Nissan and AvtoVAZ/LADA cars will include the Yandex.Auto infotainment platform," says Andrey Vasilevsky, Director of Automotive Business Development at Yandex.  “As a factory-installed infotainment system, Yandex.Auto will offer buyers of these leading auto brands with a state-of-the-art connected car solution for the Russian market.”

“We are pleased to have Yandex as a strategic partner of Renault, Nissan and LADA in Russia. Millions of Russians use Yandex products and services and they would love to have them in their cars as well. That is why this is the first time we have chosen a local multimedia provider for a local market,” says Cyrille Druhen-Charnaux, Purchasing Director of Alliance Purchasing Organization RUS.

Select models of new cars from Toyota, Nissan, Renault, and Chery currently ship with Yandex.Auto as the standard infotainment system.  The partnership announced today will bring Yandex.Auto to an even greater number of Nissan and Renault models, and now cars from AvtoVAZ/LADA as well.  Owners of select models from carmakers such as Volkswagen, Skoda, and Hyundai can also replace the factory-standard infotainment system with an after-market Yandex.Auto solution.  In addition to personal vehicles, the majority of cars in the Yandex.Drive car-sharing fleet are equipped with Yandex.Auto.

Yandex.Taxi Announces Appointment of Chief Financial Officer

Yandex.Taxi began as an on-demand transportation service in Moscow and today it operates an expansive ride-hailing business in 16 countries; a restaurant delivery service, Yandex.Eats; a meal-kit delivery service, Yandex.Chef; and an advanced self-driving car program.  As the business continues to grow, we’re excited to announce the appointment of Yevgeny Senderov as Chief Financial Officer of Yandex.Taxi.

Yevgeny brings over twenty years of experience in finance to Yandex.Taxi.  He joins the Yandex.Taxi team after nine years at VTB Capital, one of Russia’s leading investment banks, where for the last three years he served as Managing Director in the Private Equity and Special Situations Group.  While at VTB Capital, Yevgeny developed software and system integration companies, and businesses in retail and food tech, ranging from startups to large corporations.  At VTB Capital, he participated in a number of companies’ listings, including EPAM Systems, Luxoft, and Lenta.  Previously, Yevgeny served as Vice President of the Alfa Capital Partners, and prior to that, he started his career as an investment banking analyst at Credit Suisse bank.  

Yevgeny also served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Burger King Russia and President and COB of Russ Outdoor, one of Russia's largest outdoor advertising operators.  Yevgeny holds a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Chicago.  

"We are excited to welcome Yevgeny to our team,” says the CEO of Yandex.Taxi, Tigran Khudaverdyan.  “His vast experience and knowledge, alongside his expertise in private equity, will improve our financial discipline and capital allocation decisions."

"In just seven years,” says Yevgeny Senderov, “Yandex.Taxi has grown from a small startup to a multibillion-dollar tech company with a number of innovative business lines.  I am honored to join the team leading this impressive growth, and I look forward to applying my knowledge and experience to help the company reach even more impressive heights.”

Earth Day 2019: How Our Finland Data Centre Helps Heat the Local Community

For nearly fifty years, people around the world have come together on April 22nd to celebrate Earth Day and take the initiative to protect the environment.  We’re celebrating Earth Day 2019 by highlighting the importance of sustainable tech - specifically green data centres and their potential to improve local communities.  Our data centre in Mäntsälä, Finland uses innovative heat recovery tech to transfer its excess heat to the local energy grid, providing up to half of the town’s energy needs.  This excess recycled heat from the data centre results in lower energy prices and lowered carbon emissions in Mäntsälä. With data centres increasingly forming a crucial backbone for the tech that powers our lives, they stand to only grow in number and importance. Yandex is proud to be at the forefront of efforts to make these vital buildings environmentally friendly and useful to neighboring communities.

Opened in 2015, our engineers designed the data centre with environmental sustainability as a central tenet of the building’s function.  The sleek, aerodynamic shell of the building, resembling an aeroplane wing, was designed to take in as much wind as possible to cool the building rather than relying on air-conditioning.  Finland also offered favorable dynamics for the sustainability efforts as well. Similar to the cold environments in Russia where we host our other data centres, the Nordic country’s chilly climate means that the centre’s servers need less cooling and can conserve energy.  In Finland, sustainable energy policies further contribute to making it an ideal location for hosting the data centre, as 47% of electricity (in Finnish) is produced from renewable resources, and 79% of energy production is carbon neutral.

When designing the Mäntsälä data centre, in addition to the sustainable dynamics of the centre itself, we realized we had the opportunity to transfer excess heat to the benefit of the community.  The town’s energy grid offered ideal conditions for the centre’s excess heat. The local utility company, Nivos, welcomed the plan to work together and had the infrastructure to integrate a heat transfer system, with a well-connected network of insulated pipes to bring the excess heat to a central boiler.  Currently, the data centre’s excess heat is providing half the town’s heat supply, and Mäntsälä's residents have seen their energy bills reduced by 12%. Carbon emissions produced by Nivos have also declined by 40% because the company can use our data centre’s recycled heat rather than energy generated from fossil fuels.

While our data centre has been transferring excess heat to Nivos since the building’s completion in 2015, we’re excited to be rolling out a more efficient, second generation of heat recovery tech.  We started this process in November of last year by introducing the new tech in the part of the facility, which is now recovering 60-80% of excess heat, more than double the energy recycled in the first version.  With just a partial implementation of the new tech combined with the first generation of the heat recovery system throughout the rest of the facility, the data centre is currently reusing nearly half of its excess heat.  As we look ahead to installing the second version of the heat recovery tech throughout the rest of the data centre, we expect to soon reuse 90% of the facility's energy.

“As an innovative tech company, we at Yandex want to set an example of creating new ideas and innovations for sustainable energy use,” says Ari Kurvi, Manager of the Mäntsälä data centre.  “For us, it’s important to ensure communities benefit from our data centres, and one way we can do this is by reusing the excess energy we produce to improve the lives of local people. With the excess heat from our Mäntsälä facility, local households have lower energy bills, lower carbon emissions, and we can fulfill half of their annual energy needs.  Once we fully implement the latest heat recovery technology, we expect our Mäntsälä data centre to recycle nearly all consumed energy. We want to show the industry that it’s possible to reuse excess heat from these facilities sustainably, and we encourage the rest of the tech community to design data centres that also work for the good of local communities.”

Tech firms have a central role in making the infrastructure that powers our daily lives more sustainable, and Yandex is proud to be leading these efforts.  As we take the time on Earth Day to recognize the importance of sustainable technology, we also celebrate the efforts of people all around the world to come together and protect our environment for a brighter future.


 

Yandex’s University Collaboration Honored by Coursera at Annual Partners Conference

As one of Europe’s largest internet companies, we feel we have a responsibility to help educate a future generation of data scientists, as well as encourage current learners interested in subjects such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.  Through our education initiatives, we help provide the tools people need to learn the skills for the jobs of tomorrow.  Our collaborations with universities are a central part of this effort.  We believe that by sharing knowledge in partnerships with academic leaders, tech companies can help advance AI education to better prepare learners for the demands of the growing job market for data scientists.

At the Coursera Partners Conference this week in London, an annual event that brings together industry and academic partners who create content for Coursera, one such partnership was recognized for its innovative approach to online education.  Coursera awarded Yandex with the Outstanding Educator Award for Innovation for our Advanced Machine Learning specialization, which is offered through the Faculty of Computer Science at the Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Moscow, a program we co-founded with HSE in 2014.  The specialization covers seven courses that teach students the skills they need to master modern machine learning methods, such as deep learning, reinforcement learning, natural language understanding, computer vision, and Bayesian methods.  The courses are taught in English by machine learning experts from the Faculty of Computer Science.

We’re thrilled to have been honored by Coursera for our specialization that is a result of our commitment to collaboration with academia and offering educational opportunities to learners everywhere.  Coursera and other online learning platforms have become an integral part of global education, providing a more accessible source of education for people around the world.  In 2018, Coursera hosted over 800 new courses covering various topics, and we are grateful to have been selected for the Innovation award among so many impressive courses.

Sofia Tekhazheva, Manager of Academic Program Services at the Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA), attended the Coursera Partners Conference.  Sofia represented Yandex during the “University and Industry Collaborations: Preparing the Workforce of Tomorrow” panel to share insights on the benefits of collaboration between universities and industry partners.  Sofia notes that “it’s critical to work with universities to provide academic opportunities in computer science and related fields.  We need to create education systems that will help people adapt to today’s changing job demands, especially as more industries are increasingly relying on data science.  Building these learning platforms requires both resources and expertise; collaborations among industry and academia can help better provide this.  These collaborative efforts lead to more innovative programs.  The launch and success of the Advanced Machine Learning specialization exemplify what these types of collaboration can achieve.”

The Faculty of Computer Science at HSE, which offers the Advanced Machine Learning specialization on Coursera, is at the cornerstone of our collaborative projects with academia.  When we jointly opened the FCS with HSE in 2014, our goal was to prepare a new generation of learners in software engineering and applied mathematics and informatics.  As the faculty approaches its fifth anniversary, it has grown to enroll over 1,500 students and staff over 200 experts in the field.  FCS now offers three bachelor’s programmes, six master’s programmes, and a doctoral programme, as well as initiatives like the Advanced Machine Learning specialization on Coursera.

The Faculty of Computer Science is just one of many ways that Yandex works with universities to promote education.  Since 2007, the Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA) has provided university students with a free master’s level program in computer science and data analysis.  YSDA courses are taught by professors from prestigious Russian universities like Moscow State University, the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), and HSE, among others.  Educators affiliated with these schools also help administer YSDA.  Yandex also supports a chair of data analysis at MIPT, which teaches data science skills to a select group of bachelor’s students in the School of Applied Mathematics and Informatics.  The chair also directs a master’s program at MIPT.  In Israel, Yandex has partnered with Tel Aviv University to create the Machine Learning Initiative, which brings together a cluster of machine learning courses and supports students with Yandex Fellowships.  YSDA also hosts a career advancement program in the branch of the school at TAU.

The alumni of our many education programs have gone on to work in academia, at Yandex, and at other major tech firms.  We’re proud to see students from our academic programs continuing to foster talent across the global tech ecosystem.  With online education initiatives like our Advanced Machine Learning specialization, students all around the world have the opportunity to explore and lead careers in AI and machine learning.  We’re honored to have our education efforts and academic collaborations recognized by Coursera, and we welcome learners interested in data science to check out the course.

Yandex Zen Partners with Cốc Cốc to Provide AI Content Feed to Vietnamese Users

Three years ago, Yandex launched our Zen platform to help users discover new and relevant personalised content online.  The service, which is powered by Yandex’s AI technologies and global search index, helps users discover blogs, videos, images, and other posts by analyzing user behavior and providing content based on their interests.  Now reaching over 40 million active users, a number of Yandex services incorporate Zen, in addition to other global browsers and messaging platforms.  

Today we are excited to share Yandex Zen is now working with Cốc Cốc, one of the most popular search providers and web browsers in Vietnam, to deliver an enhanced browsing experience and better content engagement for their users.  The integration in the Cốc Cốc browser, which serves nearly 24 million monthly active users, is Yandex Zen’s first integration into a platform offered in Southeast Asia.  

The Cốc Cốc browser start page features a Zen recommendation feed on both desktop and mobile through their Newtab 4.0 feature.  The recommendation feed analyzes online content and user behavior to display personalised posts for users in Vietnamese.  For example, users who enjoy cooking and music will see more content on those topics along with other subjects they may like.  Users can further personalise their feeds by providing feedback such as selecting the like or dislike buttons on each article.  

“People across the globe are increasingly seeking content tailored to their interests and needs,” says Dao Thu Phuong, Cốc Cốc COO.  “At Cốc Cốc, we aim to provide this sort of meaningful experience to all Vietnamese users and fulfill our vision of becoming the most relevant browser in Vietnam.  To address the growing demand to improve processing information, we created Newtab 4.0 - a personalized content delivery platform, based on Yandex technologies.  By working together with Yandex, we are making new experiences available to users in different parts of the world.”

The partnership with Cốc Cốc is just the latest in a series of integrations Zen has established with global companies including Opera Browser in Russia, other CIS States, and Turkey; Bip Messenger in Turkey; Meizu Browser in their main markets including Russia, Indonesia, Spain, Italy; and C Launcher globally.  

"Yandex Zen offers relevant recommendations regardless of users’ preferred language,” says Head of Yandex Zen Dmitry Ivanov.  “By supporting over 50 languages and utilizing Yandex’s global web index, Zen can easily be integrated into platforms operating in new foreign markets.  According to our initial tests integrating Zen technologies into the Cốc Cốc desktop browser, usage time increased by 10%.  Through our collaboration, Cốc Cốc users now have an unlimited source of interesting and relevant content, and content providers have a new opportunity to boost user engagement."

Zen offers the benefits of world-class AI technologies in an out-of-the-box solution to grow user engagement and increase platform activity.  By providing dynamic content, users remain engaged on the platform.  On average, Zen users in Russia spend over 40 minutes on their feed.  The platform supports over 50 languages and utilizes Yandex’s global web index to analyze content relevant for users anywhere.  The platform also features additional revenue opportunities through ads inside Zen.

We are excited to be working in Vietnam, where both the growing internet audience and online media market are expected to continue to create new opportunities.  According to eMarketer, the internet audience in Vietnam is expected to reach 62.2 million users by 2022. The online media market in Vietnam (games, social media, and video platforms) has grown from $600 million in 2015 to $2.2 billion in 2018, with expected growth to reach $6 billion by 2025.

Welcome Learners: Yandex Hosts NLP Week 2019

Education is something we feel passionate about, and as STEM skills become essential in today’s work environments, we are committed to providing avenues for people to improve their data science expertise.  As one of Europe’s largest internet companies, we have a responsibility to help educate future generations in data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.  The Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA), a free master’s-level program in computer science, is at the centerpiece of these efforts.

Through the MA program, YSDA provides students with the opportunity to take courses in many different data science fields, and participate in internships, online courses, and additional extended educational opportunities.  As part of our commitment to education and our support of data science learning, we’re excited to kick off a new extended education effort this week - the first Natural Language Processing (NLP) Week at Yandex’s headquarters in Moscow.

NLP Week 2019 offers students a research-oriented intensive program on NLP in English.  Each course will be three hours long, for a total of twelve hours of in-person teaching throughout the week.  NLP Week acts as an extension to the NLP course taught at YSDA, but any students or professionals with a sufficient background in NLP and a strong command of English could also register for the course.  By the end of the four-day course, students at NLP Week will have learned the NLP applications of latent variables, deep generative models and semantic parsing.

Students of the Yandex School of Data Analysis

We are thrilled to welcome two respected experts in the field to teach NLP week!  Wilker Aziz of the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation at the University of Amsterdam will teach courses on latent variable models, deep generative models, and advanced topics.  Mirella Lapata of the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh will teach semantic parsing.

Wilker Aziz
Mirella Lapata

We look forward to all the exciting classes ahead this week.  We will be sharing more on our social channels and welcome our students to join the conversation!

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.