Chinese automaker Geely is launching its own satellite system for autonomous vehicles

March 6th

One of China's largest automakers is building a satellite network to improve its autonomous driving system.

Geely, which owns Volvo and has invested in flying cars and 600-mile an hour trains, announced on March 3 that it's begun constructing a satellite manufacturing facility it says will produce up to 500 satellites a year. It's invested $326 million in the program.

The company and its chairman Li Shufu have been working on the program since at least 2018, when they announced a partnership with the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. At the time of their partnership announcement, Geely described its would-be satellite system as "a three-dimensional digital transport network for maritime, land and air transportation."

Shufu is betting his low-orbit system will be more accurate than the US-built GPS or perhaps even BeiDou, China's national satellite positioning network. It is not known whether Geely's system will complement BeiDou.

GPS and other legacy systems lack the accuracy needed to safely deploy autonomous vehicles, Geely said. A new, low-orbit system could help build "more accurate navigation systems that can pinpoint locations by the centimetre, not metres."