America, Boeing, and General Motors may have been first to space in 1971 with a lunar roving vehicle (LRV), but now Toyota is shooting for the moon, too.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota are cooperating on a manned, pressurized rover powered by fuel cell electric vehicle technology. The tough-looking rover is said to boast a new type of fuel cell that will ultimately provide a total lunar-surface cruising range of more than 6,200 miles. That range will help the rover cover some serious distance—perhaps to the far side of the moon?—when it eventually touches down.
JAXA recently landed a probe called the Hayabusa2 on the asteroid Ryugu, and it’s banking on manned rovers such as this one for its future space exploration plans. Those plans currently include an eventual trip to Mars. The moon mission is slated for the early 2030s, while Toyota says the rover should be finished by 2029.
Toyota says its rover is roughly the size of two small shuttle buses and that it measures roughly 19.7 feet long, 17 feet wide, and 12.5 feet tall. The automaker—ahem, rovermaker—also states the rover has 42.6 cubic feet of interior space, enough for a two-astronaut crew, or four in an emergency.