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Volvo’s parent company Geely is investing more than $325 million in satellite manufacturing to provide more accurate data for self-driving cars.
The investment will allow Geely to build a plant in China, reports Automotive News Europe. The company plans to produce 500 satellites per year by 2025. By then, it expects its cars will have more features requiring the satellites.
The announcement follows the development of Geespace, a research arm created by Geely in 2018. According to the company, Geespace has around 300 highly skills working there to eventually launch and operate the satellites.
Ultimately, Geely wants the low-orbit satellites to provide its cars with high-speed internet, precise navigation, cloud computing capabilities, and even autonomous driving technology.
Geely’s subsidiary, Volvo has been working to introduce autonomous technology to customers. The safety-conscious brand has expressed its skepticism over semi-autonomous features—which require drivers to pay attention when not in control of the vehicle and which Tesla customers have repeatedly abused. Instead it’s working to get as close to full autonomous driving as possible before rolling it out.
That, presumably, requires lots of computing power and lots of live information, just the type of thing these satellites would help with.
The notion of 500 satellites a year might also be alarming for people tracking space debris. Although the race to get rid of the human-made detritus orbiting the planet, millions of pieces are currently surrounding the planet and could someday make leaving the planet impossible.