Yandex announces the expansion of the program of testing unmanned vehicles on the roads of Israel, previously it was known only to obtain permission to test without specifying the details of the program. It has now become known that the company will increase the number of UAVs in the country, as well as increase the number of developers and engineers who will become involved in the refinement of the technology together with their Russian colleagues, told N + 1 in Yandex. The company expects testing in Israel will help improve the response of the drone on motorcycles and scooters.
The process of learning unmanned vehicles can be divided into several main stages. First, engineers create a primary working prototype and begin to test its basic capabilities at a closed landfill, as well as in the simulator. After testing and making changes, the car is released on public roads under the supervision of an engineer. Testing on real streets allows you to accumulate the most valuable riding experience, which is impossible to get only in the simulation and at the site. Moreover, to create a universal unmanned vehicle, it is necessary to test it in different regions, because the rules of the road, the actual situation on the roads and the weather conditions can vary greatly between countries.
Yandex, which publicly presented its unmanned vehicle in 2017, is actively testing its unmanned vehicles in different scenarios. For example, the company’s cars have already traveled around Russia in the summer and in the winter after the snowfall. In addition, Yandex drones are being tested in other countries: Israel and the United States, for which the company received test approvals at the end of 2018.
Now Yandex has decided to expand the testing program in Israel. First, a development office will be formed there, in which specialists together with their colleagues in Moscow will refine the hardware and software platform of an unmanned vehicle. In addition, the scale of testing will be expanded – the company will increase the number of cars in Israel and the number of developers.
The company also spoke about a small change in the format of testing. The fact is that under the test conditions of unmanned vehicles on Israeli public roads, an engineer from Technion University should be in the car at the first test stage. After Yandex conducted sufficiently extensive tests and proved the safety of the car, companies were allowed to conduct tests without an engineer from the university. However, a test permit obliges the company to carry them out with its own engineer in the driver’s seat, ready to take control in an emergency situation.
Yandex is also looking to interact with local developers in the field of unmanned vehicles. The fact is that in Israel a lot of promising and already accomplished companies working in this field are concentrated. The most striking example is Mobileye, a company specializing in UAV computer vision systems. In 2017, Intel bought the company for $ 15 billion. In addition, there are smaller developers in Israel, for example, Oryx Vision and Innoviz, developing lidars for UAVs, Arbe, specializing in radars for autonomous vehicles, and Autotalks, creating V2X systems.
It is also worth noting that at the end of 2018, Yandex launched a taxi service in Israel, but it is unknown whether the company plans to use drones in its composition in the future, as it does in the Russian cities of Innopolis and Skolkovo. Earlier, the launch of an unmanned taxi in Israel during 2019 was announced by Volkswagen and Intel.