Russian multinational Yandex, which operates Russia’s largest search engine, announced this week that it has obtained permission from the Israeli Ministry of Transportation and Road Safety to operate its self-driving car on Israeli public roads. The car is officially approved to operate in autonomous mode with a safety engineer in the driver’s seat.
Israel will be the third testing site for Yandex’s self-driving vehicles, following the company’s testing in Russia and the US.
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The launch in Israel will further test the company’s scalability and expand its capabilities. Yandex underlined the favorable dynamics that make Israel a prime location to continue developing its self-driving technologies. Depicting Israel as a leading tech hub with high-quality roads, Yandex says “Israeli cities have a highly developed infrastructure that makes the country an ideal location for testing.”
Dmitry Polischuk, Head of Yandex Self-Driving Car project, says: “Israel became an obvious choice as one of the first countries outside Russia where we wanted to expand our testing. We’re honored to be one of the first companies in the country to receive a permit to operate self-driving vehicles. Yandex has been developing innovative machine learning technologies and providing leading transportation services for many years. Our self-driving car is an amazing example of our achievements in AI and we were proud to use it as a learning tool at Yandex’s Y-Data School in Tel Aviv.”
“Israel is home to top IT professionals and many important autonomous vehicle partners. By operating our vehicle in Israel, we will be able to work more efficiently with these companies and with the local talent. We look forward to more innovation and collaboration with the community here,” he added.
Over the past year in Israel, Yandex has also opened up a Tel Aviv branch of the Yandex School of Data Analysis to offer a one-year career advancement program in machine learning and launched its Yandex.Music AI-powered music streaming application. Yandex’s ride-hailing service Yandex.Taxi was also recently launched in Gush Dan and other regions of Israel under the new international brand, Yango.