As it bolsters its self-driving car, restaurant app and eCommerce services, Yandex intends to roll out an autonomous delivery robot fleet. The Russian search company says it has begun piloting the robots at its headquarters in Moscow before a planned rollout early in 2020, while the firm intends to sell the robots to other eCommerce firms for warehouse logistics and last-mile delivery at a later time, the Financial Times reported.
The company only started developing autonomous vehicles two years ago, but its experience in machine learning, image search, and engineering has helped it gain ground on rivals like Google’s Waymo. Artem Fokin, who leads business development for the self-driving car unit, said per the outlet, “If we had been doing the same thing from scratch it would have taken us at least an extra year to get where we are now.”
The six-wheeled robot comes amid a bevy of competitors with the inclusion of Starship Technologies, Amazon’s Scout and Sidewalk Labs experimenting with their models. Yandex, however, aims to set itself apart by tapping into technology from its self-driving car project to drive the robots. Those will operate on the firm’s popular navigation as well as map systems. The robots can also reportedly drive in bad weather and in the dark.
In separate news, Amazon began using its six-wheeled autonomous delivery robot, Scout, in a neighborhood in Irvine, California earlier this year, per reports in August. As the firm had been testing the robot in Seattle, it said it was accustomed to many different types of weather conditions and expected sunny California to be easier on the vehicle.
The company said in a blog post at the time, “Over the last few months, Amazon Scout has delivered thousands of smiles to customers just outside of Amazon’s headquarters in Washington state. All the while, the devices have safely and autonomously navigated the many obstacles you find in residential neighborhoods—trashcans, skateboards, lawn chairs, the occasional snow blower, and more.”