Toyota's Moon Car

#1
You all remember the Apollo astronauts' Moon car. Well, here's a Moon SUV!

JAXA (the Japanese space agency) and Toyota are teaming up to design an improved pressurized, man-rated Moon car for Moon exploration in the late 2020's time frame. I don't think that JAXA has any plans for its own manned rockets to the Moon, so this will presumably be delivered by somebody like NASA, SpaceX, or maybe Jeff Bezos and Blue. The thing will provide a shirt-sleeves environment for astronauts so they don't have to wear spacesuits, and will be powered by fuel cells with a hoped-for 10,000 km range. So explorers and scientists can go on real road-trips in it to check out interesting lunar features. It's designed to carry two people but can carry up to four in a jam.

https://global.jaxa.jp/press/2019/03/20190312a.html

JAXA artist's concept:


[Image: 20190312a_01_en.png]
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#2
(Jun 16, 2019 04:16 AM)Yazata Wrote: . . . and will be powered by fuel cells with a hoped-for 10,000 km range.


No gas or re-charging stations dotting the roadside every 40 to 80 kilometers, so it had better be an endurance athlete.
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#3
Dumb question about headlights. I’m thinking vehicle most likely driven on bright side of moon so how effective are they in the shadows cast upon the moon by cliffs, boulders, etc? Not sure if true or not and don’t have time to look it up right now but I’ve read that a shadow on the moon is extremely dark, much more so than here on Earth so more illumination of a shadowy area would be required?

Also there are two smaller lights below headlights....not expecting fog so what is their purpose?
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#4
(Jun 16, 2019 12:32 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: Dumb question about headlights. I’m thinking vehicle most likely driven on bright side of moon so how effective are they in the shadows cast upon the moon by cliffs, boulders, etc? Not sure if true or not and don’t have time to look it up right now but I’ve read that a shadow on the moon is extremely dark, much more so than here on Earth so more illumination of a shadowy area would be required?

Blame it on the title of the "Pink Floyd" album, or often easy to forget. Night is two weeks long for any location on the Moon, as is the daylight. (The far or sometimes "dark side" of the Moon refers to how it never faces the Earth so that we can see it.) The "moonbus" in 2001: A Space Odyssey also had headlights, and kind of reminds me of the the JAXA rover, except for the fact that the moonbus didn't have wheels and was longer in length.

You're right about the shadows being ultra-dark due to lack of air and thereby no Rayleigh scattering. (EDIT: Purely a guess, but the below might even be needed to overcome some blind-spot deficiency in the front view resulting from peculiarities of shadows. That yellowish area below the headlights could be another observation window slanted slightly downward, needing the lower lights to illuminate details there.)

Quote:Also there are two smaller lights below headlights....not expecting fog so what is their purpose?


On top of that,  one earlier article even boasts that the JAXA rover could have brake lights, which really makes one wonder if there are joke aspects to the design or they expect multiple vehicles to be traveling in a caravan. An image shows a "rollup solar array", which might be for powering any equipment brought along. (Or possibly even emergency back-up for slowly getting home, if such could intermittently generate enough power for the rover's total needs).
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#5
Along with headlights would the vehicle be equipped with sensors to detect nearby unseen obstacles in the event the lights aren't good enough or go out?
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#6
(Jun 16, 2019 04:12 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: Along with headlights would the vehicle be equipped with sensors to detect nearby unseen obstacles in the event the lights aren't good enough or go out?

It's surprising how some sources back in March refer to the potential Toyota rover as "self-driving" while others don't even mention such. But anyway, that would definitely clinch it, since autonomous vehicles on Earth use both radar and Lidar sensors in addition to ordinary passive cameras. (The ultrasonic sensors would obviously get nixed for the Moon, though there might be something which detected vibrations in the lunar ground.)

The final product would be a combination of both manual and autonomous capabilities, with the latter especially kicking in and taking over if something medical happened to the driver and passenger(s) -- or the latter for some reason doesn't know how to operate the vehicle. No astonishment if it could even be remote-operated like a drone from base camp, too.

Toyota reveals self-driving moon rover for japan's 2029 lunar landing
https://www.designboom.com/technology/to...3-12-2019/

Toyota will work with JAXA to create the pressurized self-driving rover in time for Japans lunar surface mission in 2029
https://www.borntoengineer.com/japans-moon-rover-toyota

Toyota joins space race with plan for self-driving lunar rover
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019...unar-rover
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