Toyota's fuel cell tech could power future lunar rover
This week Japanese carmaker Toyota announced that it was focused on the vehicles of the future and what’s really important to consumers; putting a rover on the moon.
Toyota and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced that they’d agreed to work together and “further cooperate on and accelerate their ongoing joint study of a manned, pressurized rover that employs fuel cell electric vehicle technologies.”
Toyota President Akio Toyoda drew comparisons between the car industry and space.
“I believe that our industry, which is constantly thinking about the role it should fulfill, shares the same aspirations of international space exploration.”
In the release, the company explained that its developments in alternative energy sources made its technology perfect for JAXA.
“Such a form of mobility is deemed necessary for human exploration activities on the lunar surface. Even with the limited amount of energy that can be transported to the moon, the pressurized rover would have a total lunar-surface cruising range of more than 10,000 km.”
So basically it needs hydrogen fuel cells because there’s no gas or charging stations on the surface of the moon.
The rover, which in pictures and specs released by Toyota, is a little more substantial than the lunar rovers of the 1970s which were built with input from General Motors.
Toyota’s vision for a lunar commuter has six wheels, is six metres long, over five metres wide and almost four metres tall.
Despite the leg room, the concept vehicle is only good for two passengers - but could potentially fit four in an emergency.
Toyota Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi took the opportunity to spruik the company’s fuel cell cred.
"Fuel cells, which use clean power-generation methods, emit only water, and, because of their high energy density, they can provide a lot of energy, making them especially suited for the project being discussed with JAXA.
"Toyota believes that achieving a sustainable mobility society on Earth will involve the coexistence and widespread use of electrified vehicles, such as hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles. For electrification, fuel cell batteries represent an indispensable technology.”
Toyota said it planned to launch a rover into space by 2029, with any planned vehicles to tear up extraterrestrial dirt in the 2030s.