Toyota joins Japan’s space agency to develop a manned fuel-cell lunar rover. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) stated that their are no current plans to launch humans into space. However, the rover is most likely part of an international space project. Koichi Wakata, VP of JAXA, said the rover, “will be an important element supporting human lunar exploration, which envision will take place in the 2030’s. We aim to launch such a rover into space in 2029.” The Toyota rover project is still in the infancy stages, but the illustration showed six-wheel vehicle. The concept is capable of accommodating two people and four in an emergency. The rendering shows it’s the size of two minivans at about 20 feet in length, 17 feet wide, 12 feet high, and 42 square feet in living space.
Toyota and JAXA made the agreement to cooperate on and accelerate their joint study of a manned, pressurized rover that uses fuel cell electric vehicle technologies. With the limited amount fo energy that can be transported to the moon, the pressurized rover would need to have a total lunar-surface cruising range of more than 6,200 miles. The goal of international space exploration is to achieve sustainable prosperity for all humankind by expanding activity to the moon and Mars. With so many countries and companies wanting to be a part of space exploration, this is a great opportunity for Toyota.
Toyota President Akio Toyoda said, “The automotive industry has long done business with the concepts of ‘hometown’ and ‘home country’ largely in mind. However, from now on, is responding to such matters as environmental issues of global scale, the concept of ‘home planet’, from which all of us come, will become a very important concept. Going beyond the frameworks of countries or regions, I believe that our industry, which is constantly thinking about the role it should fulfill, shares the same aspirations of international space exploration. Furthermore, cars are used in all of Earth’s regions, and, in some regions, car play an active roles as partners for making sure that people come back alive. And I think that coming back alive is exactly what is needed in this project, expectations have been placed on the thus-far developed durability and driving performance of Toyota vehicles and on our fuel cell environmental technologies.”
VP of Toyota Shigeki Terashi stated his excitement of being a part of a space project. He reported at a symposium, “As an engineer, there is no greater joy than being able to participate in a lunar project by way fo Toyota’s car-making. Being allowed to be a member of ‘Team Japan,’ we would like to take up the challenge of space.”
A Toyota spokesman said the project would give the company a chance to test its technologies in the moon’s harsh environment and improve them. The rover would enable astronauts to live in the vehicle for fixed periods without wearing space suits, provide sustainable mobility, the ability to complete remote operations, and possibly autonomous driving.
Video/Image Credit: Toyota