Vehicle manufacturer Toyota is expanding its portfolio by working with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to facilitate exploration on the moon.
The company is tasked with developing a vehicle dubbed Lunar Cruiser for exploration as part of its ambitious plan to help people live on the moon by 2040, the Associated Press reports.
Already, Gitai Japan, a company contracted by Toyota, has developed a robotic arm for the vehicls. The arm’s tasks will include inspection and maintenance.
According to Sho Nakanose, the Gitai CEO, robots are needed due to the high costs and hazards related to space exploration.
The Lunar Cruiser pays homage to the Toyota Land Cruiser and is expected to launch in the late 2020s.
The vehicle is based on the premise that people eat, work, sleep, and communicate in cars, which can be replicated in space.
Lunar Cruiser’s specific design
Initially, while announcing the plan, Toyota stated that the Lunar Cruiser should work under several parameters like giving room to travel on the moon’s surface up to six weeks with an interior designed to enable astronauts to remove their spacesuits and live.
Toyota also seeks to have the vehicles equipped with an exterior larger than the size of microbuses.
“We see space as an area for our once-in-a-century transformation. By going to space, we may be able to develop telecommunications and other technology that will prove valuable to human life,” said Takao Sato, the head Lunar Cruiser project.
The space venture adds to Toyota’s goal of diversifying its core business amid increasing competition. The company has recently made inroads in housing, boats, jets and robots.
Overall, the moon mission is part of Japan’s ambitions to catch up with other countries like China and the United States in space exploration. For instance, ispace, a Japanese venture, is working on lunar rovers, landing and orbiting, and is scheduled for a moon landing later in 2022.