One of the biggest automakers in the world is now aiming for a new frontier, one that takes it outside the world, so to speak. Toyota Motor Corporation recently announced a tentative project with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to send a fully autonomous pressurized rover onto the moon. Still in its infancy at the moment, a sustainability study is currently under way to make it all possible.
More than just a moon buggy, the proposed rover will somewhat resemble a large RV, capable of crawling through microgravity and rough terrain on 6 specially designed wheels, and can accommodate 2 people (or up to 4 in emergency situations) in a 13 m3 space. It will be powered by hydrogen fuel cell, similar to that of the Toyota Mirai, giving it a range of nearly 10,000 km while emitting only water vapor as waste. This eliminates the need to return to base after each expedition, as scientists can now eat and sleep in the rover during their mission.
The project will allow JAXA to move forward with its moon exploration ambitions, while Toyota will be given an opportunity to better align their global strategy for Earth-bound vehicles, as hydrogen fuel cells have very high energy density while producing virtually no pollutants at all. Concretization of the project is expected for the 2030s.