Using the Chinese-market Saic Roewe RX5 compact SUV as its base, the Alibaba smartcar runs the company’s YunOS operating system, allowing it to automatically pay for fuel, parking, and tolls.
Joining other ‘smart devices’ such as the smartphone and smart TV, the Roewe RX5 smartcar will be available in China from August starting from RMB 148,000 ($29,395). It's unclear, however, if this program will occur in partnership with Roewe, or as part of a reseller program.
Other features include online services such as navigation, booking and entertainment.
Each smartcar equipped with Alibaba’s operating system has its own unique ID that allows the vehicle to recognise different users and make suggestions for the climate control, music and nearby restaurants based on previous journeys.
YunOS will also be made open to developers, which allows for third-party apps to be installed and provide even more functionality at the driver’s fingertips.
In the above video, Alibaba’s CEO and chairman of 'technology steering' take the car for a test run, while operating a drone that follows the car using its GPS position.
Google previewed its automotive operating system in May - with a Maserati Ghibli running its next-generation Android operating system - that controlled everything from the climate controls and instrument cluster to navigation, music and messaging applications.
Apple is also believed to be working on an automotive project, with rumours suggesting that the tech giant is developing its own autonomous-capable electric vehicle (EV), likely to feature a form of the company’s iOS or MacOS operating systems.
Australian motorists probably have a while to wait, however, before we see this kind of technology launch locally.