It's powered by the Japanese auto company's fuel-cell tech (which uses solar energy).
Toyota said its automated driving technologies and fuel-cell know-how should enable the rover to travel more than 10,000 kilometers on the moon's rough surface. "We aim to contribute through leading Japanese technologies that can potentially generate spin-off benefits", JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa said in a prepared statement. In total, four expeditions are now planned that require use of the rover to traverse the Moon's surface. To achieve the goals of such exploration, coordination between robotic missions, such as the recent successful touchdown by the asteroid probe Hayabusa2 on the asteroid Ryugu, and human missions, such as those involving humans using pressurized rovers to conduct activities on the moon, is essential.
During a symposium on Tuesday, March 12 in Tokyo, Toyota executive vice president Shigeki Terashi expresses his excitement at the automotive company's new project and explains the value of state-of-the-art fuel cell technology. "Having Toyota join us in the challenge of global space exploration greatly strengthens our confidence..."
Toyota is a leader in fuel cell development back on earth, with many vehicles in testing - while its hydrogen fuel cell-powered Mirai compact auto has been on sale in the USA, Japan and Europe since 2014.
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.
As Bloomberg reports, Toyota is developing a six-wheeled lunar rover capable of housing two astronauts who can survive comfortably inside without need of space suits. And I think that coming back alive is exactly what is needed in this project.
A pressurized cabin will allow the rover to transport astronauts across greater distances on the surface of the moon.
Thus far, our joint study, has examined a preliminary concept for a manned, pressurized rover system, and we have identified the technological issues that must be solved. JAXA plans to collaborate with others as "Team Japan" sets their sights on the space exploration.