Hyundai teams up with Russian tech giant Yandex to build driverless cars

Alex Daniel
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Geneva International Motor Show 2007
Traditional car manufacturers around the world are scrambling to team up with tech companies to build their future models (Source: Getty)

Hyundai has today moved up a gear in the global race to manufacture driverless cars, as it teams up with Russian tech giant Yandex.

The announcement signals Hyundai’s intentions to move into the slipstream of rivals Toyota and Ford, who have teamed up with Softbank and Chinese internet giant Baidu respectively to work on autonomous car tech.

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Yandex, seen for years as Russia’s answer to Google, announced this morning it has penned a deal with the South Korean car maker to develop control systems for a future line of vehicles.

The Russian firm said this morning it was to help Hyundai’s tech arm, Hyundai Mobis, make a prototype that was based on existing models already in production by the car manufacturer, along with its joint venture partner Kia.

It also signalled longer-term ambitions to build a so-called out of the box system which could be installed for other car makers, taxi fleets and ride sharing services around the world.

Yandex chief executive Arkady Volozh said: “Our self-driving technologies are unique and have already proven their scalability. Yandex's self-driving cars have been successfully driving on the streets of Moscow, Tel Aviv and Las Vegas, which means that the fleet can be expanded to drive anywhere.

“It took us just two years to go from the first basic tests to a full-fledged public robotaxi service. Now, thanks to our agreement with Hyundai Mobis, we will be able to move even faster.”

It comes alongside Hyundai’s $300m (£226m) investment in Indian ride-sharing firm Ola to develop electric vehicles, announced this morning.

Traditional car manufacturers around the world are scrambling to team up with tech companies to build their future models, as fears grow car-software will replace mechanical systems as the most important components in cars.

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Yandex, which started life in 1997 as a search engine but has expanded at pace in recent years into smartphones and self-driving car tech, already runs what it calls “Europe’s first autonomous taxi service”. Its cars transport passengers around the Russian tech hubs of Innopolis and Skolkovo with a safety engineer in the passenger seat.

City A.M. has contacted Hyundai for comment.