Talk about taking 'off-road' to a new level.
Cars that can tackle rough terrain when the paved road runs out, come in all shapes and sizes. Toyota wants to take off-roading to the next level by building a car for a place without any roads. but Toyota wants to send one to the moon.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota Motor Corporation have reached an agreement to collaborate on international space exploration. The two companies will work together to develop a manned, pressurized rover with fuel cell electric vehicle technology. This new vehicle will aid in exploration on the lunar surface, where the challenges are quite different from those on Earth.
Unlike on Earth, the astronauts won't be able to simply put in more gasoline when the car runs out, nor will there be any oxygen to burn in an internal combustion engine. Toyota says its goal is to create an electric fuel cell technology with an impressive cruising range of over 10,000 kilometers (around 6,213 miles). The pressurized rover will be about the size of two microbuses with living accommodations for two people (or four in an emergency).
JAXA Vice President Koichi Wakata said: "At JAXA, we are studying various scenarios as well as technologies that will be applied to specific space missions. Manned, pressurized rovers will be an important element supporting human lunar exploration, which we envision will take place in the 2030s. We aim at launching such a rover into space in 2029."
"International space exploration is a challenge to conquer the unknown. To take up such a challenge, we believe it is important to gather our country's technological capabilities and engage as 'Team Japan'. Through our collaboration with Toyota as the starting point, we can further expand the resources of 'Team Japan' in the continued pursuit of international space exploration," Wakata added.
Toyota Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi expressed his own excitement for the project: "As an engineer, there is no greater joy than being able to participate in such a lunar project by way of Toyota's car-making and, furthermore, by way of our technologies related to electrified vehicles, such as fuel cell batteries, and our technologies related to autonomous and automated driving. I am filled with great excitement."