China’s Geely Launches 11 Low-Orbit Satellites for Autonomous Cars

SHANGHAI, Feb 3 (Reuters) – Geely Holding Group, a prominent Chinese automaker, announced on Saturday the successful launch of 11 low-earth orbit satellites in its second deployment. This move is part of Geely’s strategic expansion to enhance precise navigation capabilities for autonomous vehicles.

The satellites were launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center located in the southwestern province of Sichuan, as indicated in a statement provided to Reuters by Geely.

Geely envisions having a total of 72 satellites in orbit by 2025 and ultimately aims to establish a constellation comprising 240 satellites. The initial satellite launch occurred in June 2022.

Beyond offering high-precision positioning support for self-driving cars, Geely’s satellite network is designed to serve various commercial functions, including connectivity within the consumer electronics sector.

The satellites incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) remote sensing capabilities, providing clear high-resolution remote sensing imaging within a range of 1 to 5 meters (3.2-16.4 ft), according to the company.

While China’s satellite networks have traditionally been dominated by the military, the government began allowing private investment in the country’s space industry in 2014. Since then, commercial entities, some with support from local governments, have rapidly entered the sector. The majority of these companies focus on satellite manufacturing, while others attempt to develop small launch vehicles, including reusable rockets.

In line with its five-year plan for 2021-2025, Beijing has called for the development of an integrated satellite network for communications, remote sensing, and navigation. According to state media, China currently has over 400 satellites deployed in space, including those owned by commercial entities