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Alibaba could put AR navigation in your car by next year

The Chinese e-commerce giant invested in companies that plan to put AR navigation systems in cars for possibly the first time.


What is Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba doing when it's not fighting counterfeiters? It's developing better tech, of course.

With its spending in AR and VR expected to double this year, Alibaba appears to believe that AR is the way to go. AR navigation startup WayRay yesterday announced a new round of investment from Alibaba and a partnership with Alibaba-backed carmaker Banma Technologies. WayRay and Banma will develop a new infotainment system that incorporates AR car navigation ability.

The new system will be built into one of Banma's 2018 car models and is expected to look like the above image. The AR car navigation display will show drivers the navigation and route information along with traffic data and other warnings.

These virtual elements will be visible to drivers from up to 20 meters away. They'll be mapped onto the road ahead as though they were part of the real world, and their appearance will be affected by the speed of the car and its rotation angle.The companies are slated to test the cars and the built-in system by end of this year, said a spokesperson for WayRay, adding that the company hopes to launch the cars by end of 2018 in China first.

Such systems are not new -- Navdy launched its head-up display that incorporates a navigation system last month -- but Alibaba could be the first to successfully build one into cars. Last month though, Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly hinted that he might build a head-up display into the Model 3.

CNET contacted Alibaba but a representative declined further comment.

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