Toyota might be the first automaker to have its vehicles on the moon as a new agreement has been inked with JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, to rove the lunar surface in addition to other avenues of exploration beyond our atmosphere.
The Japanese automaker also revealed a digital concept of what this manned moon mission’s astronauts would use while on the surface of the moon, staying mobile via a rather large vehicle, one seemingly ripped straight out of a spacetime sci-fi blockbuster. Though, a finished version is slated to be put into service only after 2029.
Measuring 6 metres in length, 5.2 metres wide, and 3.8 metres high, the 6-wheeled lunar mobility vehicle certainly seems beefy enough to withstand the stresses of an extraterrestrial environment. Toyota isn’t disclosing how heavy it is, but keep in mind it would be a one sixth of its weight while on the moon.
The vehicle, which has yet to be given a name, is described as a pressurised rover that is able to accommodate up to 4 occupants (during an emergency) in a living space of 13 square metres while contending with extremes of radiation, temperature, and harsh terrain. This is where Toyota’s pioneering efforts into alternative propulsion system really comes into play.
In total, the rover is given an approximate operating range of 10,000km, powering itself primarily using hydrogen fuel cells to generate the electricity that drives the wheels. As you can see from the pictures, a large extendable solar panel can also be deployed to top up its power reserves.
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, in 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, cars play 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. I am extremely happy that, for 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.”