This article is more than 1 year old
Japan to send ‘transforming robot’ to the Moon in 2022
It’s a pathfinder for Toyota’s planned self-driving lunar buggy, and tiny compared to Optimus Prime
Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will send a transforming robot to the Moon.
The space agency announced its plans and revealed the design depicted below today. You’re looking at a device JAXA says will be 80mm in diameter, before transformation, and weighs in at 250 grams.
The ‘bot will travel to Luna on a 2022 mission conducted by Japanese space upstart ispace. JAXA suggests the device will be spherical at launch, then “transform into a running form” depicted at right in order to trundle about the surface of the Moon on a mission to ascertain what it will take to build a larger, pressurised, vehicle capable of carrying crew on the moon.
JAXA and Toyota have teamed to make what The Register likes to call the “Space HiAce” a reality, as part of Japan’s contribution to the Artemis project.
- Japan accuses Chinese military of cyber-attacks on its space agency
- We got it! Japanese space agency confirms its probe has Ryugu asteroid samples
- No, it's not the trailer for the new Dune, it's the potential view from the 'Super Hi-Vision Camera' on Japan's 2024 mission to Mars
Buggy-building efforts to date have determined that more data about local driving conditions is needed to design a viable vehicle.
The lunar transformer’s mission is therefore to send home data that can be used “for evaluation of the localization algorithm and the impact of the regolith on driving performance of the crewed pressurized rover.”
The ‘bot incorporates miniaturization tech from TOMY Company and Doshisha University, control tech from Sony and JAXA’s expertise building stuff like probes that land on asteroids and bring bits of them back to Earth. ®