Russian Company Yandex Offers Europe's First Autonomous Ride-Hailing Service

By Kim Snaith on at

Taxis with drivers are so last year. The awkward conversations about the weather and if they've had a busy day? Nobody has time for that! And if you happen to be in Innopolis in Russia, you can avoid it: Yandex has just launched a driverless taxi service in the city, the first of its kind in Europe. Well, almost - there's still a safety driver in the front passenger seat to make sure everything runs smoothly. Who knows whether it's customary to make polite small-talk with them.

So far, the scheme is just a pilot, with around 100 passengers participating in the test. There are a set number of destinations around the city that passengers can travel to, including the stadium, the university, a local business centre and some residential blocks. Passengers use a 'telegram chatbot' to confirm their destination with the car, and away they go.

Currently, there are two self-driving cars in Innopolis, and during the testing period, rides will be offered free of charge. Providing the trial goes well, Yandex plans to roll out autonomous ride-hailing to other cities, bring in more vehicles, and eventually remove the safety driver.

See the taxis in action in the video below. What a world we live in.