First Yandex Self-Driving Pure-Electric Bus Prototypes Expected For 2017 Debut

Aug 31, 2016 07:31 AM EDT | Sovan Mandal

Yandex, the search engine giant in Russia announced it will be venturing into the hot new self-driving electric vehicle segment with the first prototypes expected to be ready by next year.

The search giant will also be aided by the Rusian truck manufacturer Kamaz, Daimler along with the government-backed research firm NAMI in the venture. The goal is to create a fleet of self-driving buses each capable of carrying a dozen passenger with a projected range of 124 miles.

According to Fortune, passengers will likely have the option to set the destination via an accompanying app on their smartphone, which makes the entire concept seem like a group taxi sort of thing. Such an idea also brings to focus the importance of the mapping software with the autopilot system having to determine the most economical route to maximize driving potential.

The report also revealed its Yandex that would be developing the  artificial intelligence aspects of the project along with computer vision, speech recognition tech, and mapping functions. Kamaz would be chipping in with its manufacturing expertise and would be building the actual prototypes.

Similarly, NAMI's contribution to the project would be to lend its testing and research facilities, TechTimes reported. Daimler has been pursuing its own self-driving dreams and it is not known how it is going to figure in the Yandex backed self-driving bus project.

Electric cars that drive on their own seems to be the future that the auto industry is heading towards. While that seems understandable, what is perplexing is the interest shown by search companies worldwide in developing self-driving electric cars.

Google has been doing so for years now while Baidu, the Chinese equivalent of Google too has recently unveiled a self-driving electric propelled car.

Tesla has been the first to offer autopilot system on its Model S and Model X vehicles but has also been facing some backlash following a few crashes, including a fatal one. The company though stated they are working on an advanced autopilot version that includes more sensors and radars.

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