Russia-based company Yandex announced this week that it’s rolling out its own autonomous delivery robot. Dubbed the Yandex.Rover, it’s a squat, six-wheeled cooler-sized robot that can scoot around at a walking pace, delivering packages and food.
Yandex is often referred to as the Russian Google. According to the press announcement, its Rover has already hit the road at the company’s headquarters in Moscow. Similar to other delivery robots like those from Starship and Kiwi, the Yandex.Rover uses lidar and can travel autonomously (with remote supervision), recognize objects, and avoid pedestrians, animals and other obstacles.
Synergy is the name of the game for the Yandex.Rover, as it will eventually be put to use delivering meals from Yandex.Eats, groceries from Yandex.Lavka and goods from the online marketplace Beru.
At first blush, the Yandex.Rover is probably most analogous to Amazon’s Scout rover bot. Scout is currently being tested in Washington state and California for small package deliveries from Amazon. While the company hasn’t made any specific announcements, it’s not hard to imagine the Scout bot being used for food delivery from Whole Foods, Amazon Go or the eventual Amazon-branded supermarket chain.
Other autonomous delivery robots like the aforementioned Starship and Kiwi are focusing on providing food delivery to college campuses, though there is some general expansion into cities such as Sacramento.
Robots like these could drastically alter the food delivery landscape in terms of how people get their meals. Here in the U.S. at least, there are still a number of legal and infrastructure hurdles that need to be overcome before they ever become commonplace. I’m not familiar with the regulatory world of Russia, it’s hard to say if Yandex will face similar scrutiny.