Yandex and Uber have announced an agreement to spin off their self-driving vehicles business, Yandex Self Driving Group, from their ride-hailing and foodtech joint venture, MLU. Yandex SDG, will continue to be directly owned by Yandex and Uber.
Simultaneously to the spin off transaction, Yandex says it will invest US$150m in Yandex SDG, US$100m of which will be in the form of equity, with the remaining US$50m taking the form of a convertible loan. Yandex will also purchase a portion of Uber’s stake in Yandex SDG. As a result of the transactions, Yandex will own 73% of Yandex SDG, while Uber will own 19%. The remaining 8% will be reserved for Yandex SDG management and employees.
“We are excited to increase our stake in this strategically important part of our business,” said Arkady Volozh, chief executive officer of Yandex. “In just a short period of time, we have achieved breakthrough results in autonomous driving. We firmly believe in the future of autonomous mobility as a safe and cost-effective form of transportation with a vast addressable market. The additional capital that we are investing in SDG will allow it to continue to pursue the R&D and productization of autonomous mobility.”
Yandex noted that it has been developing its proprietary self-driving technology since 2017. Currently, its autonomous vehicle fleet has 130 cars, which have driven over four million autonomous miles on public roads in various weather and road conditions in three countries – Russia, Israel and the USA.
Since late 2019, the company also has been developing its own delivery robot, Yandex.Rover, aimed at the autonomous delivery of small and medium-size packages. “We’ve been developing technology that can be applied to various types of vehicles and that is suitable for different road, traffic and weather conditions around the world,” noted Dmitry Polishchuk, CEO of Yandex SDG.
“There is still a lot to be done to apply this technology to ride hailing, food delivery, e-commerce, and many more adjacent categories in the longer-term. The creation of a new company, with significant support from Yandex, positions us well for the further acceleration of our development and to achieve our goal of creating a safe and efficient transportation ecosystem.”