Enrichment Education

Toyota is venturing to the moon, developing the Lunar Cruiser

Story at a glance

  • Car maker Toyota is partnering with the Japanese Space Agency JAXA to develop a vehicle that can explore the surface of the moon.
  • Called the Lunar Cruiser, it’s expected to help people live on the moon by 2040.
  • The project is based on the idea that people already eat, sleep, work and communicate in their cars on Earth so they should be able to do the same in space.

Car maker Toyota is getting into business outside of Earth and developing a vehicle that can explore the surface of the moon and someday take on Mars too. 

Toyota and Japanese Space Agency JAXA are partnering to create a hydrogen-powered rover that is capable of exploring the surface of the moon. The company hopes to help people live on the moon by 2040 and potentially go on to live on Mars, according to The Associated Press.  

The space vehicle will be called Lunar Cruiser, inspired by Toyota’s Land Cruiser sport utility vehicle.  

The vehicle is based on the idea that people eat, work, sleep and communicate with others safely from the confines of their car. That concept can be applied to outer space too, said Takao Sato, head of the Lunar Cruiser Project at Toyota, to the AP. 

“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 Sato to the AP. 


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Toyota describes the Lunar Cruiser’s mission as achieving sustainable prosperity and extending the reach of human activity. However, there are steep challenges the car marker will face, as lunar gravity is one-sixth of that on Earth and the moon has a complex terrain, covered in craters, cliffs and hills.  

The moon is also exposed to harsher conditions than Earth, like radiation and extreme temperatures.  

The project has already made progress though, as Gitai Japan Inc. has developed a robotic arm for the Lunar Cruiser that will aid in the exploration, inspection and maintenance of the vehicle. It will have a grapple fixture that will allow the arm to be interchangeable so it can act like a variety of different tools.  

Toyota is also planning to use hydrogen technology in the Lunar Cruiser, making the vehicle less toxic to the environment.  

“Fuel cells, which use clean power-generation methods, emit only water, and, because of their high energy density, can provide a lot of energy, making them especially suited for the project being discussed with JAXA,” said Shigeki Terashi, Toyota executive vice president 

Toyota engineer Shinichiro Noda told the AP that he’s excited about the lunar project, an extension of the car company’s longtime mission to serve customers and the moon may provide valuable resources for life on Earth. 

“Sending our cars to the moon is our mission,” said Noda to the AP. Toyota has vehicles almost everywhere. “But this is about taking our cars to somewhere we have never been.” 


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