As the demand for autonomous cars keeps growing, so do car and in-car connectivity needs. That's why China's largest private automaker, Geely, is investing in building satellites.
Sharing the news on Tuesday, China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group said they were investing 2.27 billion yuan ($326 million) in a new satellite manufacturing plant. The plant will focus on building low-orbit satellites that will provide more accurate data for autonomous cars.
Different satellite models
The Chinese giant stated that the new plant will be able to build a "variety of different satellite models," which won't necessarily be only Geely entities.
Their satellite network will be launched as early as the end of this year, according to Geely, but no mention of how big it will be was mentioned.
Reuters shared the news that the plan for Geely's plant is to build 500 satellites a year.
The point of the project, and the low-orbit satellites, is to provide high-speed data transmission, precise navigation, and cloud computing. All of which are crucial for car, and in-car connectivity of autonomous vehicles.
These will also enable over-the-air updates to the cars, and "content delivery" to the vehicles' owners.
BREAKING: Geely diversifies into manufacture of satellites; low-orbit satellite network aims to satisfy demand for data with high-speed connectivity capabilities allowing for rapid OTA updates and content delivery to end-users https://t.co/dNA5FxGVUY pic.twitter.com/s6zSGCzzok— Autocar Professional (@autocarpro) March 3, 2020
So far, unlike SpaceX and OneWeb, no mention of providing standard internet connections has been offered by Geely.
If all goes according to plan, this low-orbit satellite network will enable much better accuracy, of up to one centimeter, compared with current GPS satellites which only provide meters-close accuracy as they're in high orbit.
The Verge received news from a company representative that "This accuracy is not only important for cars, it will also become essential for unmanned flight."