Toyota, Japan space agency join forces to develop moon rover

"Having Toyota join us in the challenge of global space exploration greatly strengthens our confidence", Hiroshi Yamakawa, JAXA's president, said in the release.

Toyota is an off-road specialist brand that manufactures and sells more 4x4 vehicles globally than any other auto company, so it was the logical choice for the new moon rover, or should we say "Moon Cruiser".

Toyota has revealed the first look at the solar-powered autonomous rover it could soon send to the moon.

Toyota and JAXA are eyeing the rover for future manned missions to the moon where mobility is critical.

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

"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 worldwide space exploration", Toyoda added.

Toyota president Akio Toyodo said that cars, even now on our planet, play active roles in "making sure that people come back alive". We aim to contribute through leading Japanese technologies that can potentially generate spin-off benefits. And I think that coming back alive is exactly what is needed in this project.

The space agency's president, Hiroshi Yamakawa, said: "Having Toyota join us in the challenge of worldwide space exploration greatly strengthens our confidence". For decades, he said, automakers have developed concept vehicles with their "home town" in mind.

A pressurized cabin will allow the rover to transport astronauts across greater distances on the surface of the moon.

JAXA believes it will have the ability to launch the lunar rover into space come 2029, and more manned missions will come throughout the 2030s.

Fuel cell electric vehicles can travel much further than battery-powered ones before having to recharge, which makes the technology suited for the lunar project, according to Toyota.

  • Joe Gonzales