Toyota Should Make the Moon-Bound Lunar Rover For Earth

Toyota is making an actual lunar rover it calls “Lunar Cruiser,” to ply the deserted terrain of the Moon, in case you didn’t get the drift from what it’s called. It is working in conjunction with the space agency in Japan. The agency’s ultimate goal is for people to inhabit the Moon by 2040. But the rover looks so cool, and Toyota’s business is making human transportation, we think it should make these as RVs for Earthlings. 

Toyota’s lunar rover is just a six-wheel RV

Toyota Lunar Cruiser
Toyota Lunar Cruiser | Toyota

Toyota says that the Lunar Cruiser project will be launched later this decade. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is overseeing the development. The Cruiser will be more than just transportation; it will be where people can eat, sleep, and communicate. Just like a recreational vehicle here. 

Large recreational vehicles have been around at least since the 1960s, and before that people were converting busses for the same purpose. Or they would pull a trailer. So this isn’t rocket science, no pun intended. 

Toyota’s lunar rover looks like a 1970 Rectrtans RV

1971 Rectrans RV
1971 Rectrans RV | Rectrans

And honestly, Toyota’s Lunar Cruiser is not that far removed from the early 1970s Rectrans RV. Available for three years, the independent company created by Corvette Stingray and Mustang Boss 302 designer Larry Shinoda, went out of business after building under 2,000 of these futuristic RVs. 

“We see space as an area for our once-in-a-century transformation,” says Takao Sato Toyota’s Lunar Cruiser head, to The Associated Press. “By going to space, we may be able to develop telecommunications and other technology that will prove valuable to human life.”

Some functions being developed for the Cruiser might not be needed with Earth versions, like the robotic arm. Toyota envisions it as a device to perform tasks with its “grapple fixture.” The ends of the arms could use different tools attached to them depending on needs, like scooping, lifting, or sweeping. The technology is similar to existing robotics in assembly plants. 

There’s another lunar rover

X-Prize ispace lunar rover
X-Prize ispace lunar rover finalist | ispace

Also getting into, and going through space, has been refined in its current state. So  Toyota now sees the challenge as working in space. But for obvious reasons, that can be dangerous for astronauts. So those types of takes would be the robot arm’s domain.

There is another company in Japan tackling lunar rover development besides Toyota. ipspace Inc. is close to launching a rocket to the Moon, which it expects to do later in 2022. It is working on landing and orbiting besides developing a rover. 

Everything old is new again

1971 Rectrans RV
1971 Rectrans RV | Rectrans

So with at least two Japanese companies developing lunar rovers, by adapting and then selling them for us Earthlings, both companies could bring in much-needed capital to offset costs. And we’d get these wild-looking recreational vehicles with lots of interesting gizmos attached, like those robotic arms. 

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

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