No more problems with the unmanned taxis
Unmanned taxis will appear on 18 streets in Moscow and Skolkovo, as well as in Innopolis and the Sirius Centre in early 2022.
The government has solved all the interdepartmental disagreements over a decree that would launch unmanned taxis in Russia, Vedomosti's sources said.
The document is called "On Establishing an Experimental Legal Regime in Digital Innovation and Approving a Programme for an Experimental Legal Regime in Digital Innovation on the Operation of Highly Automated Vehicles". The publication's interlocutors clarified that the adoption of the decree and the publication of the launch programme are scheduled for January.
In December, Tigran Khudaverdyan, Head of Yandex, told RBC news holding that the company is waiting for permission to publicly test unmanned taxis on public roads and plans to start this in Moscow's Yasenevo district. A government decision had been pending for weeks, he said. "This decision is not obviously an easy one. This is the first time we are dealing with a technology whose security is particularly important at any given time. That is why we are both cautious and generally respectful when the regulator treats it the same way, i.e. putting safety and common sense at the forefront," he stressed.
The project was developed in the Ministry of Economy last year on the basis of the application of Yandex, submitted to the government at the end of the year and was finalized after that, "as there was a large number of participants involved in the implementation of the experiment," said the representative of the Ministry. A source of the newspaper in one of the federal agencies explained that additional time was required to study various aspects of the implementation of the project, including the safety of unmanned transport. In particular, the new version takes into account the comments of the traffic police.
The draft document proposes to oblige Yandex to transmit data on the trips of unmanned taxis in Moscow to the state information system. Information on the location of the cars would be transferred to the Regional Navigation and Information System. The company will also have to report regularly on administrative violations involving unmanned taxis. The Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation Federal Service for Supervision of Transport (Rostransnadzor) and some regional authorities will oversee the experiment.
According to the document, the first unmanned taxis will appear in 18 streets of Moscow, on the territory of Skolkovo, as well as in Innopolis (Tatarstan) and on the territory of Sirius centre in the Krasnodar Territory. "Only in Skolkovo and Innopolis will enable fully unmanned taxis to operate, while in other territories an engineer is required to be in the passenger seat to monitor the situation and be able to control the vehicle," said Olga Barinova, a representative of Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko's secretariat.
Yandex representative Yulia Shveyko, in her turn, added that at the first stage, cars will move "between predetermined landing and drop-off points" in Yasenevo area, there will be dozens of such points. According to her, the service is scheduled to launch in early 2022, after obtaining official permission. Unmanned taxis will be available to be ordered in the Yandex.Go app. The price will be comparable to a regular taxi ride. Initially, only those who have sent an application to take part in the test will be able to use the service. Schweiko said that the company has already received more than 10,000 such applications.
"Yandex had tested the first prototypes of unmanned cars in spring 2017. In September 2020, it spun off the direction of unmanned cars into a separate company, Yandex Self-Driving Group (Yandex SDG).
Last November, the Moscow City Duma approved the establishment of an experimental law regime for unmanned vehicles in the capital. In late December, Vice Mayor of Moscow Maxim Liksutov in an interview with RBC said that unmanned transport "will have to be seriously discussed" in 10-15 years. He has added that the Departmeny of Transport, together with Yandex, are currently testing an unmanned tram as well.