Either way, Toyota and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) recently announced an agreement "to consider the possibility of collaborating on global space exploration.' Though that's an incredibly soft "maybe", it indicates they'll continue to 'study" the topic. However, one has to wait to till 2029 to know what a Toyota "all-terrain moonrover" is like.
The vehicle is around six meters (19.7 ft.) long, 5.2 m (17 ft.) wide and 3.8 m (12.5 ft.) tall with 13 square meters (140 sq. ft.) of interior space.
While the lunar rover is not ready to launch yet, JAXA said it had helped identify the technological issues that need to be solved.
It uses solar energy to collect power for its fuel cells. Moreover, it is exposed to radiation and temperature conditions that are much harsher than those on Earth, as well as an ultra-high vacuum environment. Specifically, the two plan to explore the possibility of a manned, pressurized rover capable of driving on other worlds, using fuel cells as a power source. Having said that, astronauts will have sufficient space to move in and out of the vehicle with their bulky gear on.
"It's an extremely challenging project, and we have high hopes for Toyota's technology", Koichi Wakata, an astronaut who has flown in Nasa's Space Shuttle and served as the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station, said at a JAXA event.
Joint studies on the development of the "space mobility" concept began in May 2018 with the most recent agreement reached to accelerate work. For electrification, fuel cell batteries represent an indispensable technology. "Being allowed to be a member of "Team Japan", Terashi says, "we would like to take up the challenge of space". The entire system will be powered by Toyota's fuel-cell technology.
The rover is still in the conceptual stage, but an illustration in the news release uncovered a six-wheel vehicle that somewhat looked like an armored personnel carrier.
As per Toyota's statement, the pressurized vehicle can hold four astronauts in an emergency situation, although it is meant to carry two astronauts.