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JAXA, Toyota to develop manned lunar rover

13 March 2019

Toyota and JAXA have been jointly studying the concept of a manned, pressurized rover since May of 2018.

The carmaker is working with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency to build a pressurized rover for exploring the moon.

Toyota's announcement of the agreement is somewhat vague in its language, noting that the company and JAXA now have an agreement to "consider the possibility of collaborating on global space exploration".

The vehicle will run on solar power and Toyota's fuel cell technology.

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President of JAXA, Hiroshi Yamakawa said that Toyota joining its mission strengthens the agency's confidence in such a rover. Even with the limited amount of energy that can be transported to the moon, the pressurized rover would have a total lunar-surface cruising range of more than 10,000 km.

Toyota's concept vehicle, revealed in a new video and series of images today, will be created to hold two astronauts and runs on solar power and fuel cell technology.

But first, it will need the technology to support them.

Lunar gravity is one-sixth of that on Earth.

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The rover, which is expected to be 6 meters long, 5.2 meters wide and 3.8 meters high, will feature Toyota's fuel cell technology. Meanwhile, the moon has a complex terrain with craters, cliffs, and hills.

The vehicle will be sent separately from the humans that will ride in it and will meet the astronauts once they arrive on the moon.

Though it's meant to carry two people, Toyota says it can fit four in an emergency situation. In total, four expeditions are now planned that require use of the rover to traverse the Moon's surface.

Sending humans back to the Moon is something that NASA and a number of other space agencies around the world are now working towards. 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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JAXA, Toyota to develop manned lunar rover