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Toyota Lunar Cruiser will boldly go where there was no RAV4 or Camry before

TOKYO (AP) – Toyota working with Japanese The space agency on a vehicle to explore the lunar surface has ambitions to help humans live on the Moon by 2040 and then live on Mars, company officials said Friday.

The vehicle being developed with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is called the Lunar Cruiser, its name paying homage to Toyota land cruiser. Its launch is set for late 2020.

Takao Sato, Project Head of Lunar Cruiser at Toyota Motor Corp.

“We see space as an area for our century-old transformation. By going into space, we can develop telecommunications and other technology that will prove valuable to human life,” Sato told The Associated Press.

Gitai Japan Inc., a joint venture contracted with Toyota, has developed a robot arm for the cruiser, designed to perform tasks such as inspection and maintenance. Its “grapple fixture” allows the tip of the arm to be changed so that it can act as different tools, shoveling, lifting and sweeping.

Gitai CEO Sho Nakanose said he feels the challenge of blasting into space has been basically met, but working in space entails great costs and dangers for astronauts. That’s where robots will come in handy, he said.

Since its founding in the 1930s, Toyota has had to worry about losing its core business to changing times. It has ventured into houses, boats, jets and robots. Construction of networked sustainable living quarters near Mount Fuji, called Woven City, is starting this year.

The Japanese fascination with the moon is growing.

A private Japanese joint venture called ispace Inc. is working on a rover, landing and orbiting on the moon, and is expected to land on the moon later this year. Entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, who recently recorded a video of himself hovering over the International Space Station, has booked tickets to orbit around the moon aboard SpaceX’s Starship.

Toyota engineer Shinichiro Noda says he’s excited about the moon project, an extension of the automaker’s longtime customer service mission, and that the moon could provide valuable resources. for life on Earth.

“Bringing cars to the moon is our mission,” he said. Toyota has cars almost everywhere. “But this is about taking our cars to a place we’ve never been.”

The lunar probes used in the Apollo 15, 16, and 17 missions were partly developed by Synthetic engine.

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