Missing in action: Russia’s attack on Ukraine inspired many local efforts to support the beleaguered nation, including a concert at the Unitarian Church on May 21 (see Events). Less noticed is an absence: self-driving Hyundai Sonatas owned by Yandex, the Russian tech giant, are no longer circling the city’s streets.
Ann Arbor is the headquarters for Yandex’s self-driving group, and when it opened in 2020, the city was one of three global testing sites, with Moscow and Tel Aviv. According to tech-news website theverge.com, Yandex initially called the pause temporary, but later confirmed that it had laid off six safety drivers here. The company claimed it had to, the site reported, because “its vehicle licenses were suspended by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).” Yet a state official told TheVerge reporter Andrew Hawkins that “Yandex still has 14 valid manufacturer plates registered with the state,” which had “received no requests to cancel them.”
It seems that the fog of Russia’s war reaches all the way to Ann Arbor.