It seems more and more automakers have plans to go to the moon. Toyota, Honda, and General Motors have all announced their plans for a lunar mission that includes electric shuttles and a renewable energy system for astronauts. But now another manufacturer will be joining the list – Nissan.
Nissan has announced a new lunar rover that will be jointly developed with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Unlike Toyota, which calls their rover the Lunar Cruiser, Nissan has yet to name their vehicle. It also looks nothing like their current lineup of vehicles. Based on the images released by the automaker, the Nissan prototype shows a boxy high-riding vehicle. There’s no word yet whether it will be manned or unmanned either.
The prototype may not be the best-looking lunar rover since it technically looks like a box on wheels. However, it does carry Nissan’s latest tech from the LEAF EV and more importantly, the e-FORCE all-wheel drive system from the electric Ariya crossover.
According to the automaker, the e-FORCE all-wheel drive system will be developed further to ensure the rover can handle the sandy terrain and harsh conditions of the lunar surface. Specifically, Nissan says they are developing driving-force controls that minimize the amount of wheel spin to match surface conditions and prevent the vehicle from being stuck.
“JAXA aims to apply the research results to future space exploration. We are collaborating with companies, universities, and research institutes on projects that are feasible and have potential for commercialization and innovation. By conducting research with Nissan, which has expertise in electrified technologies, we hope to apply our findings to the development of higher-performance lunar rovers,” said Ikkoh Funaki, JAXA Director of the Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center.
Nissan hopes the partnership with JAXA will help contribute to the technological evolution of automotive technology and space exploration technology.
There’s no word yet when we might see Nissan’s rover deployed the moon, but it could be around the same time Toyota introduces theirs.