Last March, Hyundai signed a memorandum of understanding with Russian technology company Yandex to jointly develop Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous vehicles.
Apparently, the two companies got to work immediately, as Yandex has released a video of a self-driving 2020 Sonata prototype testing in its open-air lab. The initial goal of the collaboration was to build an autonomous prototype based on a Hyundai or Kia model and, as you can see, that has already been accomplished.
According to Yandex, the new Sonata was chosen because its platform allows for easy integration of the self-driving technology and hardware with minimal modifications. The team in Russia received the first Sonata at the end of May 2019 and started work on the prototype with Hyundai Mobis engineers.
Initial testing took place on Yandex’s closed testing grounds where the autonomous Sonata has been driving 24/7 in fully autonomous mode. Currently, the self-driving Sonata is tested in various weather conditions and simulated traffic situations with other self-driving cars on the tracks.
The plan is to start operating the vehicle on Moscow’s streets “shortly.” The 2020 Sonata will be part of Yandex’s autonomous fleet which is expected to reach 100 vehicles by the end of this year. Thanks to the partnership with Hyundai Mobis, more self-driving Hyundai and Kia models will join the fleet in the future.
“Our collaboration with Hyundai Mobis is an important element of our expansion strategy, and the new Sonata is just the beginning,” Yandex says. By collaborating with Hyundai Mobis and other automotive players, the company’s long-term goal is to build “an out-of-the-box autonomous driving solution intended for a wide variety of automotive platforms.” That’s more or less what Waymo is doing so calling Yandex “Russia’s Google” may not be a stretch after all.