Caixin
Mar 04, 2020 07:57 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Automaker Geely to Launch Satellites for Self-Driving Cars

A Geely automobile production plant in Zhejiang province. Photo: VCG
A Geely automobile production plant in Zhejiang province. Photo: VCG

Chinese carmaker Geely said Tuesday that it plans to launch two commercial satellites by the end of this year, a move that could give it an edge in developing autonomous vehicles.

The two low-Earth-orbit satellites will be designed by a company called Shikong Daoyu, in which Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd. holds a controlling stake through one of its subsidiaries, Geely said (link in Chinese) on Tuesday. Geely also said it has started building a satellite assembly and integration test center in Taizhou, a city in East China’s Zhejiang province, where the carmaker was founded.

With this move, Geely is following other global companies which have plowed resources into satellites in recent years including Boeing, Amazon and Tesla, whose SpaceX project has been particularly notable.

If successful, the satellites will give Geely an advantage in developing self-driving cars by providing high-precision positioning accurate to within a few centimeters.

Founded in 2014, Shikong Daoyu’s 100-strong workforce focuses on researching and developing low-orbit satellites. This year it has started commercial satellite tests in partnership with makers of passenger vehicles and trucks.

Geely holds a 70% stake in Shikong Daoyu through its Geely Technology subsidiary, which also operates ride-hailing platform Caocao Chuxing and flying-car project Terrafugia.

Privately-owned Geely is now the owner of global brands including Volvo and Lotus Cars, as well as the largest shareholder of Daimler AG, owner of the Mercedes-Benz marque, after it acquired a nearly 10% stake two years ago.

Ding Yi contributed to the story

Contact reporter Mo Yelin (yelinmo@caixin.com) and editor Joshua Dummer (joshuadummer@caixin.com)

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