A Chinese billionaire has started a venture to launch satellites, rivalling similar ambitions from Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Li Shufu, the owner of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, a Chinese automotive giant in control of Volvo Cars, is hoping the satellites will steer the steer the company on the right track in the development of autonomous vehicles by offering “highly accurate” navigation solutions.
Testing of driverless cars across the world involves picking up data with sensors from satellites for precise geolocation information.
The company said on Tuesday that it has started on the construction of a $325m (£254m) production and testing centre for satellites in Taizhou, a city of almost six million people on the coast of the East China Sea.
“Today, the automotive industry faces huge challenges and equally huge opportunities. Geely must take the initiative to embrace change, develop through innovation, find new synergies online and offline,” Mr Li said.
The move from Geely follows similar activity from Silicon Valley tycoons, who are looking to launch satellites into an increasingly crowded low-Earth orbit.
Elon Musk, the billionaire boss of Tesla and SpaceX, is leading a project named Starlink to launch a constellation of thousands of satellites that could bring internet connectivity to the most remote corners of the world.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is eyeing up satellite launches, after announcing plans in 2019 to send 3,000 satellites into orbit, while London-based OneWeb is hoping to put 650 satellites into space at an altitude of around 750 miles.
Astronomers have warned that the increasing flow of satellites into space poses hazards, including the risk of collisions that could generate debris.
Geely’s satellites will be deployed by Geespace, an operating unit established in 2018 for the development of low-orbit satellites. The company expects to start launching its satellites into space by the end of the year.
Source: Telegraph UK