Toyota Shoots for the Moon

Automaker working on vehicle for space missions
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 28, 2022 12:17 PM CST
Toyota Working on a Moon Car
This graphic illustration provided by Toyota shows the "Lunar Cruiser.   (Toyota Motor Corp. via AP)

Toyota is working with Japan's space agency on a vehicle to explore the lunar surface, with ambitions to help people live on the moon by 2040 and then go live on Mars, company officials told the AP on Friday. The vehicle being developed with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is called Lunar Cruiser, whose name pays homage to the Toyota Land Cruiser sport utility vehicle. Its launch is set for the late 2020s. “We see space as an area for our once-in-a-century transformation," says Takao Sato, who heads the Lunar Cruiser project at Toyota Motor Corp. "By going to space, we may be able to develop telecommunications and other technology that will prove valuable to human life."

Gitai Japan Inc., a venture contracted with Toyota, has developed a robotic arm for the Lunar Cruiser, designed to perform tasks such as inspection and maintenance. Its “grapple fixture” allows the arm’s end to be changed so it can work like different tools, scooping, lifting, and sweeping. Gitai Chief Executive Sho Nakanose says he felt the challenge of blasting off into space has basically been met, but working in space entails big costs and hazards for astronauts. That’s where robotics could come in handy, he adds. Meanwhile, a private Japanese venture called ispace Inc. is working on lunar rovers and is scheduled for a moon landing later this year.

(More Toyota stories.)

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