Volkswagen and Porsche will launch their own constellation of satellites for self-driving cars


According to our colleagues from L’Express, Porsche and by extension the Volkswagen group to which the brand belongs, plan to launch their own satellite system for their future autonomous cars. The other, less avowed objective would obviously be to thwart the plans of Elon Musk, who has a substantial lead with the Tesla and SpaceX pair. Two billion euros is the sum that the VW group would have provisioned to deploy its own constellation of satellites. In order to carry out the project, it is Porsche Digital GmbH, the subsidiary dedicated to digital, which would have been designated to be in charge.

Satellites to drive cars?

The objective of this particularly ambitious project would be to set up a constellation of satellites in low orbit capable of high precision to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicles. Indeed, according to Hendrik Brandis, the expert interviewed by our colleagues from L’Express,  » the current satellite positioning system offers an accuracy of around ten meters, which is insufficient for autonomous vehicles « . According to him, it would be imperative to go beyond the current American GPS system, whose 24 satellites perched at an altitude of 20,000 km have forty years of operation on the clock.

European sovereignty

The stakes are obviously huge and go beyond the framework of the automobile industry. Today, the United States masters the entire chain of this device, from the construction of the satellites to their assembly, including their putting into orbit with SpaceX… and even by integrating the processing of the data they collect thanks to the Gafam (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft). As for China, it is advancing its pawns impressively by relying on companies at the forefront of new technologies (Baidu, Tencent, Xiaomi) and a booming automotive industry (NIO, Geely, Saic Motors, etc.) . For Europe, it is quite simply a question of sovereignty when the Old Continent now has a third of the cars in circulation in the world (about 400 million, compared to 350 million for the United States and 530 million for Asia).

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Also see video:

Volkswagen AG owner of Porsche, Seat, Skoda, VW but also of Bugatti, Lamborghini, Bentley, Ducati and Scania and MAN trucks is playing a large part of its future here, even if the question of the launcher for these satellites is not yet settled. This could have been an opportunity for French industry to position itself. Indeed, the Arianespace group appears to be an ideal solution which has the advantage of being European. But on the German side, there would be a lot of reluctance to rely on a partner whose launch rate is so uncertain. This is why Porsche SE prefers, for the moment, to invest in Isar Aerospace, a German micro launcher called to become the main partner of the project. This also raises the question of other European manufacturers, in particular French, Stellantis (ex-PSA) and Renault can they ally themselves with VW and at what price? Or could they rely on Ariane to offer an alternative?

Source : The Express

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