Could space tech transform roads on Earth?

Could space tech transform roads on Earth?

Space engineer Damien Garot (Co-Founder and CEO at Stellar) believes that the automotive and mobility sectors are the next mass market for satellite telecoms. And that’s why he’s solving the problem of internet connectivity on roads around the world – using space technology to provide a perfect connection. 

We asked him about the story behind Stellar, and how space-based connectivity could drive greater equality and access to innovation for diverse populations on Earth. 

Here’s what he told us.

What's the story behind Stellar? 

“Ok, let’s talk first about why we created Stellar. Today, internet on the move simply does not work. In Europe and the US, at least 40% of highways suffer from poor internet, which is a roadblock for mobility applications that depend on connectivity. 

“Our vision at Stellar is to offer perfect internet on the roads, for passengers and vehicles. With perfect internet on the move, the automotive and mobility sectors can radically transform. For example, autonomous driving will be safer thanks to information shared by other cars on road hazards that cannot be detected by the sensors of the vehicle.  

“Another example is sustainable mobility solutions like syncing traffic lights with vehicles, to lower the carbon footprint by up to 45%, which obviously requires connectivity.  

“Stellar was founded at the meeting point of three industries: automotive, space, and telecommunications. This is reflected in the team, where the three co-founders are experts in these respective industries. Our team is completely international and has been building up the software and products to ensure seamless and ubiquitous connectivity. It is a whole team effort to ensure that what we are developing excels in the field and is solving the real problems that exist today.” 

“I’m a space engineer and I’ve worked 25 years in the industry for satellite constellations, for satellite manufacturers, for equipment providers. I actually came to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia many times, as the country is a leader in Space telecommunications. 

“I am convinced that the automotive and mobility sectors are the next mass market for satellite telecoms. We co-founded Stellar, to make sure that Space would embed itself into the terrestrial economy. That’s why we did so many demonstrations with car manufacturers of what space and terrestrial telecommunications could achieve together: a perfect internet on all roads.”

Could your technology help to reduce inequalities in terms of digital connectivity? 

“Imagine a world where teleoperated shuttles are available not only in highly urbanised areas but also in remote and low-density areas. This means fewer cars, yet people can still get to where they want, when they want. It means that people who do not have the means of transportation stay involved in the community and can access places and things that are out of their geographic reach. 

“Seamless and ubiquitous connectivity means reduced inequalities not only in terms of digital connectivity but also all the innovations that are enabled thanks to connectivity. It allows people to stay connected digitally, as well as in the case of autonomous or teleoperated shuttles, allows people to get to where they want to go and connect in person. I believe it has great social advantages, far beyond what we can imagine today.”

What milestones has Stellar achieved over the last year or so?   

“Stellar did marvels over the last 12 months. First, we developed STEER, our software that seamlessly and predictively switches between all available cellular, Wi-Fi, and satellite networks. Simply put, you do not have to worry about your networks, as STEER will always select the best one for you, across all technologies. This is truly deep-tech as this is done real-time. STEER is a software suite that will be line-fitted into vehicles. So your next car may be as well connected as your living room, even in the middle of the desert! 

“Second, we unveiled GLOBBLE, our all-inclusive service, that takes the form of a router. Once plugged in, it provides internet in less than 60 seconds, regardless of your location or driving speed. It is dedicated for use when travelling during business road trips, for winter or summer camps and houses, remote events, or any other need for staying connected while on the move. And GLOBBLE is powered by STEER, so you can enjoy perfect internet right away. 

“Some more highlights for Stellar in the last few months include:

  • Winning the European Startup Prize for Mobility, received from the chairwoman of the European Parliament commission in charge of transportation and tourism.
  • Finalists of the Grand Prix ACF AutoTech, the innovation prize of the prestigious Automobile Club de France.
  • Unveiling GLOBBLE at #CES2024 for consumers, professional fleets and media/content creators.
  • Speaking at AI House Davos 2024, where we were invited to showcase how AI will  accelerate the future of automotive.
  • Mapping connectivity along the route of Tour de France 2023, showing that our STEER solution can bring connectivity even in the small rural roads used by the race.
  • Mapping connectivity on dozens of thousands of km throughout Germany for an automotive client.”

Do you think connectivity is a new human right?  

“I’ll tell you what I am convinced of: Connectivity is as important as electricity or water. Could you imagine what would have happened to us during the COVID-19 pandemic if we did not have the internet as a lifeline to our loved ones? 

“Stellar was founded in the middle of the pandemic and we quickly gathered a team of the world’s best professionals, thanks to the internet. Our CTO Hassan was in France, while Anela, our CCO, the ex-Director of Connectivity at the Porsche car manufacturer, was in Stuttgart in Germany.  

“I come from the countryside, and I know firsthand what it is to feel the digital gap with urban centres. Thanks to the connectivity, students in the low-density area have access to the same knowledge. Thanks to connectivity, autonomous shuttles can drive fast and safely in rural areas. Thanks to connectivity, businesses can operate and thrive anywhere.”

Finally, why are events like LEAP valuable to you?  

“Attending LEAP in Saudi Arabia unlocks new potential. It presents so many new opportunities for international expansion, partnership building, and investor engagement. 

“LEAP offers us a platform to present our innovation and connect with key players in the field. Seeing the advancements in tech from all around the world in one place keeps us on our toes and creates the perfect setting to develop new partnerships and find new customers. 

“It is also a great place to meet interested investors who believe in our vision and would like to be part of shaping the future of automotive and connected mobility.”

Thanks to Damien Garot at Stellar. Did you miss LEAP 2024? Don’t worry – you can pre-register now for LEAP 2025.

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