Chinese automotive company, Geely Holding Group, has gained approval to
build satellites crucial to communication and navigation for autonomous
A licence to build a facility in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province was granted by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in February.
Last year the firm announced plans to construct a $326 million satellite manufacturing hub called the Taizhou Project.
Geely will go ahead with the project in October and have an estimated
manufacturing output of 500 satellites a year, according to Space News.
Geely did not say how many satellites are needed to complete its constellation but said its system does not require many costly base stations. The satellite constellation is fundamental to Geely realising the vehicle-to-vehicle communication needed for fully autonomous driving.
The first of its kind, the Taizhou Project facility will serve as a research and development centre and a factory for the mass production and testing of satellites.
Beidou, China’s satellite navigation network and equivalent to the US GPS navigation platform, was completed last year and provides global mapping within a meter accuracy.
However, autonomous driving requires inch-perfect precision. Geely is
planning to fine-tune navigation for vehicle-to-vehicle communication and to create
a “mobility ecosystem.”
Xu Zhizhao, CEO of Geely Technology Group, said the satellite industry was rapidly developing and the Taizhou facility would meet its needs.
Xu said development cycles for micro-satellites would be shortened and
that updates on existing technology would happen more frequently.
The NDRC’s decision to add satellite internet to its list of “new infrastructures” was lauded by Geely Technology Group. Xu sees it as an opportunity to further establish an industrial chain covering key sectors including R&D, design, and manufacturing.
Geely’s subsidiary, Zhejiang Shikong Daoyu Tech Co, also revealed plans for a $637 million satellite internet project in Qingdao, China.
Geely’s other subsidiary and premier vehicle brand in Europe, Volvo, recently announced it would go all-in on electric vehicles – vowing that all Volvo cars would be electrified by 2030.
Henrik Green, chief technology officer at Volvo, said there was “no long-term future” for internal combustion motor vehicles and that the transition to an all-electric fleet should be complete by the end of the decade.
Volvo will also overhaul the way it sells automobiles. All Volvos will be purchased online while dealerships will facilitate deliveries to customers and provide service and maintenance work.