The Russia-based tech giant Yandex recently showed off a self-driving vehicle prototype from its “Yandex.Taxi” on-demand taxi service (“on-demand rideshare service”) to media.
While the tech itself isn’t anything that we haven’t seen already — Velodyne LiDAR, a Nvidia GTX GPU, software that’s been developed in house, etc. — the fact that pretty much every major tech firm out there is now involved in self-driving vehicle development is worth drawing attention to.
Most of the major players in Silicon Valley, most of the major tech firms in China, most major auto manufacturers, etc. — it seems pretty much impossible to not notice how much momentum is now behind development efforts. When will these efforts bear fruit? Within 5 years? Within 10 years? Never?
With regard to Yandex’s self-driving vehicle prototype, the idea for now according to the company is simply to have a means of testing the software being developed — which is reportedly utilizing the expertise developed with regard to the company’s navigation, computer vision, geolocation, and machine learning tech (including from Yandex.Navigator and Yandex.Maps).
“We use anonymised data that we receive from Yandex.Navigator users, which allows us to understand how to drive in a city with its traffic congestion, accidents, speed limits, road closures and other traffic events,” commented Yandex.Taxi Head of PR Vladimir Isaev in an email to Autoblog. “We have been using computer vision technologies in a number of our services for quite a while. We use them to find vacant parking spaces or read road signs, for instance, in our geolocation services.”
TechCrunch provides more: “Expertise with computer vision use at Yandex comes from matching similar images for search results, and for translating text within a photo through its language service offerings. As a result of its combined software development efforts, as well as recent work on applying said tech to the automotive space, Yandex’s self-driving software for its prototype vehicle is developed completely in house, the company tells me. … Yandex says it’s using its own ‘custom-built’ hardware as well as mass market, generally available components for now, but it’s in talks with partners regarding the creation of fit-for-purpose automotive grade hardware down the road.”
The company’s prototype will reportedly begin real-world testing on public roads within a year. We’ll keep you posted as more is revealed.
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