TOKYO • Toyota Motor Corp is scoping out a new frontier — lunar rovers.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is teaming up with the country’s largest carmaker to build a six-wheeled selfdriving transporter that can carry two humans for a distance of 10,000km.
They’re aiming to land a vehicle on the moon in 2029. The announcement comes less than a week after Tesla Inc co-founder Elon Musk’s SpaceX docked a craft at the International Space Station (ISS).
Toyota’s fuel-cell technology will power the rover, which will be big enough for two astronauts.
They’ll be able to take their suits off and live in the vehicle as they explore the lunar surface, said Shigeki Terashi,
an executive VP at Toyota. “It’s an extremely challenging project, and we have high hopes for Toyota’s technology,” Koichi Wakata, an astronaut who has flown in NASA’s Space Shuttle and served as the first Japanese commander of the ISS, said at a JAXA event.
Roughly the size of two mini buses, the Toyota-JAXA lunar rover will be 6m long and have 13 sq m of habitable space.
The rover will use solar arrays and fuel cells to generate and store power. It will land on the moon before a human expedition arrives, and drive to meet them.
The project calls for the rover to be used in four other exploration areas, so it will have to move around on its own to meet arriving astronauts. — Bloomberg