Toyota shoots for the stars, reveals its lunar rover

March 13, 2019

Toyota wants to take its vehicles to the moon. On Tuesday, the automaker announced an agreement with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to potentially collaborate on international space exploration.

The announcement also came with photos and videos of Toyota's proposed lunar rover. The vehicle features a front end not unlike the FJ Cruiser and power comes from hydrogen fuel cells. The cabin would be pressurized for the astronauts on the lunar mission, and the fuel cell technology would provide a cruising range of more than 6,000 miles to explore Earth's moon. The entire vehicle is about 20 feet long, 17 feet wide, and 12 feet tall with space for two astronauts. It can accommodate four in the case of an emergency.

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The agreement is meant to promote Japanese technological knowhow. SpaceX, for example, has worked alongside NASA in the U.S.

"We aim to contribute through leading Japanese technologies that can potentially generate spin-off benefits," JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa, said. "Having Toyota join us in the challenge of international space exploration greatly strengthens our confidence."

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In the future, Toyota and JAXA will conduct joint studies with the latter exercising the automaker's technology know-how to accelerate the development of a pressurized lunar rover.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda said the announcement also marks a shift in the automaker's thinking. For decades, he said, automakers have developed concept vehicles with their "home town" in mind. In the future, companies will likely work to develop concepts and production vehicles for their "home planet." The executive added safety has always been a top concern at Toyota and it will ensure any lunar rover brings human astronauts back from the moon's surface safely.

JAXA believes it will have the ability to launch the lunar rover into space come 2029, and more manned missions will come throughout the 2030s.

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