Toyota, Japan space agency join forces to develop moon rover

Olive Hawkins
March 13, 2019

Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is looking to take Toyota to the moon.

Powering the Toyota Moon Rover concept will be "fuel cell electric vehicle technologies" similar to what the Japanese carmaker used in its current Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. While Japan doesn't have plans to work on a rocket that could carry humans to the moon, it hopes to launch the rover as part of an worldwide project. Toyota and JAXA have been jointly studying the concept of a manned, pressurized rover since May of 2018.

The automaker's fuel cells use clean power-generation methods and only emit water and have reduced amounts of harmful substances that the auto company is working to improve, Toyota Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi said Tuesday. JAXA president Hiroshi Yamakawa said that the cooperation between it and Toyota could generate spin-off benefits. Toyota is touting the fuel cell technology and the 10,000-mile range of the rover.

Lunar gravity is one-sixth of that on Earth.

Toyota Lunar Rover concept

The pressurized vehicle proposed this week by Toyota is six meters long and 3.8 meters high - or, about the size of two microbuses, the auto company says.

Running on a fuel cell, the lunar vehicle will only emit water and surplus air. The vehicle, which features a pressurized cabin and a suite of high-tech goodies, would give astronauts incredible freedom to explore the Moon, but it's not a sure thing quite yet.

'For wide ranging human exploration of the moon, a pressurized rover that can travel more than 10,000 km in such environments is necessary'.

Sending humans back to the Moon is something that NASA and a number of other space agencies around the world are now working towards. It will be capable of accommodating two people and even four people in case of an emergency. Through our joint studies going forward, we would like to put to use Toyota's excellent technological abilities related to mobility, and we look forward to the acceleration of our technological studies for the realization of a manned, pressurized rover.

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