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Fifty years on since the first moon landing, Toyota Motor Corporation has officially announced a joint research project into a manned, pressurized lunar rover that uses fuel cell electric vehicle technologies.

The partnership – with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) – is a three-year joint research agreement running from fiscal year 2019 to fiscal year 2021.

Over the course of the period, JAXA and Toyota will manufacture, test, and evaluate prototypes, with the goal of developing a manned, pressurized lunar rover and exploring the surface of the moon as part of an international project.

Earlier this year, the two sides announced they were considering an agreement.

At the time, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said: “The automotive industry has long done business with the concepts of ‘hometown’ and ‘home country’ largely in mind. However, from now on, in responding to such matters as environmental issues of global scale, the concept of ‘home planet’, from which all of us come, will become a very important concept. Going beyond the frameworks of countries or regions, I believe that our industry, which is constantly thinking about the role it should fulfil, shares the same aspirations of international space exploration.”

Toyota's Giant Step to Test Electric Vehicle Technology on the Moon

JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa added: “Manned rovers with pressurized cabins are an element that will play an important role in full-fledged exploration and use of the lunar surface. For this, we would like to concentrate our country’s technological abilities and conduct technological studies. Through our joint studies going forward, we would like to put to use Toyota’s excellent technological abilities related to mobility, and we look forward to the acceleration of our technological studies for the realization of a manned, pressurized rover.”

The partnership said the initial plan is to to launch the lunar rover in 2029.

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