Toyota has joined forces with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), with the aim of producing a manned, pressurised lunar rover. Powered by a fuel cell electric drivetrain, the pair are targeting a total lunar-surface range of more than 10,000km (around 6,200 miles).
Should a physical version of the six-wheeled rover reach production, it’ll measure six metres long, five metres wide and almost four metres tall. As such, it would be twice as long, twice as wide and almost five times the height of the Moon Buggy used on the Apollo 15 mission.
Toyota claims its lunar rover could comfortably accommodate two astronauts (or four in emergency situations) in its 13-metre-squared living quarters. Other features include a huge retractable solar panel, air-less tyres and an array of communications equipment.
JAXA’s Vice President, Koichi Wakata, set out the firm’s plans for space exploration, stating: “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.”
Toyota seems to have its sights set on a more terrestrial level, and is keen to see how its partnership with JAXA will advance battery-electric and fuel cell technology for its earthbound vehicles.
Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Corporation, Shigeki Terashi, said: "Toyota believes that achieving a sustainable mobility society on Earth will involve the coexistence and widespread use of electrified vehicles, such as hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles.
“Our joint studies with JAXA are a part of this effort. Being allowed to be a member of 'Team Japan', we would like to take up the challenge of space."