Toyota and Japan's space agency greenlight plans to develop a 6-wheeled moon rover




  • In Science
  • 2019-03-22 10:00:02Z
  • By USA TODAY
Toyota and Japan's space agency greenlight plans to develop a 6-wheeled moon rover
Toyota and Japan's space agency greenlight plans to develop a 6-wheeled moon rover  

Having built a reputation for creating some of the most reliable cars on Earth, Toyota is forging ahead with plans to tackle extraterrestrial terrain.

The automobile manufacturer announced plans on March 12 to team up with Japan's space agency to develop the moon rover of the future - a fuel-cell powered behemoth that enables astronauts to live inside it without wearing space suits.

Fuel cells use clean power generation methods and emit only water.

A joint agreement between Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota enables the two companies to formally begin researching and developing the rover.

JAXA is planning to send manned missions to the moon between 2029 and 2034.

"The automotive industry has long done business with the concepts of 'hometown' and 'home country' largely in mind," said Toyota President, Akio Toyoda in the joint announcement. "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."

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The goal is to help build a more sustainable future for humankind, the two companies said.

The initial design for the pressurized, six-wheeled vehicle calls for enough living space to comfortably support two occupants. In the event of an emergency, however, the rover could sustain four crew members.

With a range of more than 6,200 miles, the vehicle will be at least 20 feet long, 17 feet wide and 12.4 feet high.

Officials from Japan's space agency said that JAXA and Toyota have been working on this project since May 2018.

JAXA officials say that building a rugged sports utility vehicle for lunar traveling does have its challenges.

"Lunar gravity is one-sixth of that on Earth. Meanwhile, the moon has a complex terrain with craters, cliffs, and hills," astronaut Koichi Wakata, JAXA's vice president, said in the statement.

Follow Dalvin Brown on Twitter: @Dalvin_Brown

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Toyota and Japan's space agency greenlight plans to develop a 6-wheeled moon rover

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