The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) have named their manned pressurised rover the Lunar Cruiser. This follows a period of research into developing a lunar rover that uses fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) technologies.
The name Lunar Cruiser was chosen because of the long-held familiarity with Land Cruiser among consumers and development team members alike. The decision was made based on the quality, durability and reliability expected of the pressurised lunar rover – matching those values long held sacrosanct by Toyota for its unrivalled, all-wheel drive utility vehicle.
JAXA and Toyota signed a joint research agreement to work on a manned pressurised lunar rover last year, with an expected launch date in the latter half of the 2020s. The work involves the use of simulations to confirm power and heat dissipation performance while driving, the manufacture and assessment of prototype tyres and the use of virtual reality and full-scale models to consider the cabin layout for equipment.
Part of their focus has been working with a variety of industries to create new partners under the title of “Team Japan”, based on the theme of a lunar society pioneered by the manned pressurised rover. The meetings focus on how the manned pressurised rover becomes the starting point of a vision of a future lunar surface-based society, while discussing the challenges associated with this concept.
JAXA and Toyota will gather the knowledge, experience and technological capabilities of enterprises from across a variety of industries in their attempt to realise their vision of sustaining continuous activities on the surface of the moon as “Team Japan” moving forward.