In the recent event of Russia’s Ukraine invasion, many global companies are having various impacts. Russian technology company Yandex announced on Saturday that it is going to pause its autonomous vehicle operations and sidewalk robot in the US. The Spokesperson stated, “We hope to resume the operations in the future,”
The news comes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued to send shockwaves around the world. The conflict has sparked a fierce outcry among Western nations, leading many to cut business ties with Russian companies. On Friday, Russia announced it was blocking access to Facebook. The news is first reported by Automotive News.
Yandex started working on AV technology in 2016, demonstrating its first successful test on the snowy streets of Moscow a year later. The company made its international debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2019, allowing people to ride in its fully autonomous vehicles (i.e., no one behind the steering wheel) on public roads. And in 2020, Yandex opened a technology center in Ann Arbor, bringing along some of its AVs for public road testing. Meanwhile, the company launched a delivery pilot service with GrubHub using its six-wheeled sidewalk robots on the campuses of Ohio State University and the University of Arizona.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is having far-reaching consequences for companies like Yandex that had international ambitions. Uber, for example, sped up the sale of its stake in its joint venture with the company, Yandex.Taxi. Uber, which sold its Russian-based operations to Yandex in 2017, had a 29 percent stake in the venture that was valued at about $800 million at the end of 2021. Uber is also removing its executives from Yandex’s board. The company initiated the sale of its stake in Yandex last August, but that process sped up after the invasion of Ukraine.
Yandex is known to have created one of the most aggressive AV technology. Yandex stated according to Search Engine Journal, “Any prolonged economic downturn in Russia as a result of sanctions, depreciation of the ruble or negative consumer sentiment could have a material adverse effect on our results.”
The announcement observed that it is aware of rumors that control of private companies could be seized by the Russian government. Yandex said that because most of its operations and assets are located within Russia, such a move could have a negative effect on its value. Said, “…any such action would have a material adverse impact on the value of the Yandex group as a whole.”