A car built by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and automaker SAIC might be the most connected in the world. The new OS’Car RX5 SUV has a special version of Alibaba’s YunOS operating system, normally used in everything from smartphones to refrigerators and other smart home appliances.
The idea is to make a smart operating system "the second engine of cars" with data as "the new fuel," said Dr. Wang Jian, chairman of Alibaba’s Technology Steering Committee, in a statement.
Alibaba wants to make cars part of the Internet of Things, with devices exchanging data to make life better for consumers. In the case of the RX5, drivers will be able to reserve and pay for parking spaces, fuel, and coffee through Alibaba’s Alipay service. It will also recognize different drivers and make recommendations on music, climate control, and destinations based on past trips.
Naturally, the infotainment system will include basic navigation and voice control features through three LED screens — but it also has a 360-degree detachable camera to record road trips (and take selfies). The vertically oriented screen in the center stack is reminiscent of those found in Tesla and Volvo’s latest cars, and seems likely to become the preferred setup for infotainment systems as vehicles become more connected.
Alibaba hopes to make internet-connected cars the foundation for smarter cities, something that China will need to grapple with as millions of its citizens move into the middle class and purchase automobiles for the first time. The car will be priced at $22,300 and deliveries will begin next month.
No word if the automotive-version of YunOS might be coming to any cars in the US.