China Releases First Alibaba Smartcar
Alibaba just started as an e-commerce business, but expanded to other areas which included launching its own electronic payment system, as well as the “world’s first smartcar.”
Essentially, the Alibaba smartcar features an integrated operating system that identifies the vehicle and allows it to pay for gas, parking and toll fees. It can even recommend drive settings and destinations for each occupant.
The smartcar was introduced by Alibaba last Wednesday. According to a source, will be available in China starting this August with a starting price of RMB148,800 or about $22,300 in current exchange rates.
Based on the Roewe RX5 compact SUV, Alibaba’s smartcar was built by state-owned Chinese automaker SAIC. It is running on Alibaba’s operating system, YunOS. Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma said his company aims to inject “human wisdom” to machines in the coming decades.
Smartphones have become smarter, thanks to operating systems, he added. The same can be done for the smartcars. YunOS can make them an indispensable part of human life in the years to come.
The operating system will allow the smartcar to automatically pay for toll charges, parking and fuel refills. The car itself can also access booking, navigation and entertainment via online. The YunOS will be able to recognize individuals through unique IDs, allowing it to recommend music, air temperature and nearby restaurants based on the occupant’s preference and past trips.
YunOS is open to third-party developers, so expect more apps to be compatible with the smartcar in the coming months. That means more features, functionality, etc.
Alibaba said it hopes the launching of the smartcar will start the development of connected transportation and infrastructure, where everything can be connected through the Internet of Things, or IoT, a concept where everyday objects are connected to a network that allow them to send and receive data.
Google and Apple are currently developing their own versions of a smartcar.