In 2019, Toyota and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Company (JAXA) introduced plans for a hydrogen fuel-cell lunar rover, to launch later within the decade. Now the automobile has a reputation—Toyota Lunar Cruiser.
The identify is a reference to the Toyota Land Cruiser SUV, which has constructed up a fame over a number of many years for off-road prowess. The Lunar Cruiser’s grille additionally appears to be like influenced by the basic FJ-Sequence Land Cruiser. However this lunar rover is designed to boldly go the place no Land Cruiser has gone earlier than.
Whereas the present Land Cruiser can seat as much as seven individuals, the Lunar Cruiser will solely have room for 2 astronauts. They may get a extra comfy trip than their predecessors, nonetheless. Not like the rovers used in the course of the Apollo lunar missions, the Lunar Cruiser may have an enclosed, pressurized, cabin, so astronauts can drive it with out area fits.
When the undertaking was first introduced in March 2019, Toyota stated the rover would have the ability to function on the moon for as much as six weeks, with a spread of 1,000 kilometers (about 621 miles) per tank of hydrogen. Photo voltaic panels will present supplementary electrical energy.
Toyota beforehand stated a fuel-cell powertrain was the suitable selection as a result of it could be one fifth the mass and about 20% smaller in quantity than a comparable battery-electric powertrain—an necessary consideration when all the things must be launched to the moon through rocket. As an additional benefit, water produced by the gas cells can be utilized for cooling tools or consuming, Toyota has stated.
In its 2019 proposal, Toyota stated hydrogen and oxygen for the gas cells would initially be delivered to the moon from Earth. Later, water discovered on the moon could possibly be used to supply hydrogen by electrolysis, with photo voltaic panels offering the electrical energy, the automaker stated.
Toyota Lunar Rover idea
The Lunar Cruiser is an excessive instance of how automakers need to increase use of gas cells past passenger automobiles.
Toyota has experimented with fuel-cell vans and buses, and its next Mirai stays on the best way—though little has been stated concerning the mannequin in practically a yr.
In the meantime Hyperion, which is hoping to deploy fuel-cell tech throughout numerous modes, confirmed the XP-1 supercar final month.
Hydrogen may have promise as a future aircraft fuel—maybe with a whole redesign of passenger and cargo planes across the limitations of hydrogen storage.
Simply do not count on this undertaking to piggyback something from Tesla or SpaceX. Elon Musk has said that hydrogen is likely to be worthwhile for the primary stage of rockets, however nothing extra.