Alibaba Could Put Augmented Reality Navigation in Cars This Year

Alibaba joins forces with AR nav startup WayRay to put augmented reality navigation in Chinese cars. 

Wayray

Alibaba's investment into tech startup WayRay on Thursday is expected to lead to the Chinese company going all-in to develop a new augmented reality navigation system in the very near future, according to a press release

As part of the investment, Alibaba's Banma Technologies would be working with WayRay, a Swiss company that is centered around creating AR navigation. The direction-giving computer will be put into use in 2018 model year cars from Banma. 

Like dos nav systems, the Alibaba/WayRay setup will be designed to provide driving directions with route details and traffic information. The augmented reality, however, is what makes this system special. The new tech is supposed to show navigation details at up to roughly 65 feet away, CNET reports. The directions will be shown on the path in front of the driver, and the way they are displayed will change depending on the speed and angle the car is traveling at. (If you're having trouble picturing what that might be like, think of it as a next-level heads-up display.)

“Augmented reality HUDs are the future of car navigation system," said Banma CEO Alex Shi. "Rather than distracting the driver, AR navigation actually improves safety as the warnings and traffic data are placed right on the windshield." 

So far, there has never been a car offered with this tech directly from the factory—although plenty of manufacturers have suggested such technology on concept cars.