Toyota is reaching for the stars with its latest development, a Lunar Cruiser powered using groundbreaking technology.
As part of Japan’s efforts to expand its presence in space exploration, Reuters reported its manned lunar rover is expected to head to the moon sometime in 2029, when it’s hoped a Japanese astronaut will be posted at the Gateway lunar space station. Concept images made the rounds on X, formerly known as Twitter.
JAXA and Toyota signed an agreement to work together making a crewed lunar rover ready for the late 2020s! Here's a concept of their vehicle named "Lunar Cruiser". If they're as reliable as Earthly Toyotas you can expect to see these things roaming around the Moon until the 2120s pic.twitter.com/JCV4vWoUZC— Dr James O'Donoghue (@physicsJ) September 10, 2020
With gas stations difficult to come by on the moon, the idea is to use regenerative cell technology for energy creation, with a goal of one day using the moon’s water ice as an energy source.
In comments published by Reuters, Toyota said solar energy and water will produce hydrogen and oxygen via electrolysis in daylight hours, and the fuel cell will provide power in the 14-day lunar nights.
The technology relies on water, so it will need to make the most of alternative sources for the time being, with water being sent up to the moon with the Cruiser. However, it’s hoped that utilizing moon ice water or mining for water could be possible with future technological advances.
Meanwhile, CarBuzz posted on the platform its excitement that the Cruiser’s fuel cell “could benefit future hydrogen-powered road cars.”
Toyota said the Lunar Cruiser can carry two people for up to 42 days, while the vehicle itself can remain usable for a decade.
This is an intriguing concept in the search for alternative fuels as the world moves away from gas-powered internal combustion engines that contribute to global heating. While the Lunar Cruiser is obviously designed for a significantly different environment, its technology might still have benefits here on Earth.
According to Interesting Engineering, fuel cells are being examined as a potential power source for transportation.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuel Data Center said fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) can be fueled in just five minutes and provide up to 300 miles of driving range, and the only emission is water. While some are available already, the takeup of FCEVs will rely on appropriate infrastructure to make ownership feasible.
Meanwhile, in July, Toyota hailed a technological breakthrough regarding its battery technology for electric vehicles. As the Guardian reported, the manufacturer believes simplifying the production of the materials used for efficient solid-state batteries has allowed it to make batteries that are half the size, weight, and cost of liquid-based versions.
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