China’s Geely launches 11 satellites for autonomous cars

Chinese car maker Geely Holding Group said on Saturday it has launched 11 low-Earth-orbit satellites, its second dispatch, as it expands its capacity to provide more accurate navigation for autonomous vehicles.

The satellites were launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in the south-western province of Sichuan, Geely said in a statement. Geely said it expects 72 to be in orbit by 2025 and eventually plans to have a constellation of 240. The first launch was conducted in June 2022.

In addition to providing high-precision positioning support to self-driving cars, Geely said its network will also serve other commercial functions such as connectivity to the consumer electronics sector.

The satellites have AI remote sensing functions, providing 1m to 5m, clear, high-resolution, remote-sensing imaging, the company said.

China’s satellite networks are dominated by its military, but the government began to allow private investment in the country’s space industry in 2014. Since then, commercial companies, some backed by local governments, have rushed into the sector, with the majority focusing on making satellites and the rest attempting to build small launch vehicles including reusable rockets.

In its latest five-year plan for 2021-2025, Beijing has called for an integrated network of satellites for communications, remote sensing and navigation. China has more than 400 satellites deployed in space, including commercially owned satellites, according to state media.  — Zhang Yan, (c) 2024 Reuters

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