Alibaba Group recently joined the competition against Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s Carplay-powerd cars with the launch of its first ‘Internet-connected’ car, named “OS’Car RX5”. The new SUV was launched on Thursday, and runs on the company’s in-house ‘YunOS for cars’, the same operating system also running on other smart Internet-connected products from Alibaba, albeit customized. The Chinese e-commerce company recently collaborated with SAIC Motor Corporation, another Shanghai automotive manufacturing company to develop and mass produce the new Internet-connected car. This move comes as the latest development by another internet giant to expand internet-of-things to the automobile sector.
As Alibaba puts it in their demo video, a car is as personal to the user as their smartphone, and it is only natural for the car to be eventually able to connect, and communicate with other personal gadgets the user owns, creating a simplified and more comfortable overall experience. Hypothetically, an internet-connected car will be able to switch on the air-conditioning right before the user arrives home, increasing the convenience.
This car touts a host of other new features like instant recognition of the driver from their smartphone or smartwatch, and customized settings, like navigation points and music according to individual tastes. It also features an intelligent map, smart location tracking and availability of directions without GPS or Wi-Fi connectivity. All the cabin functions can also be controlled with voice commands, which is always a neat feature to have, that’s for sure. The car is also equipped with three screens which function as rear mirrors, and a dashboard. This car can record 360-degree pictures and videos with four built-in cameras.
The car is available for sale in China, its price ranges from 99,800 Yuan ($14,930) all the way to 186,800 Yuan ($27,930). That being said, the security of internet-of-things and internet-connected devices has been heavily discussed lately, and we do hope Alibaba is on top of things. As a researcher, Troy Hunt, pointed out in February, Nissan’s Leaf electric car could be easily hacked with information from the mobile companion app. This will be an uphill journey for Alibaba against formidable competitors, mostly local one, like Baidu and Tencent.