Nissan unveils prototype lunar exploration vehicle

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A prototype of the “Moon Rover” jointly developed by Nissan Motor Co. and JAXA is seen at Nissan headquarters in Yokohama.

YOKOHAMA (Jiji Press) — Nissan Motor Co. unveiled a prototype lunar exploration vehicle it has jointly been researching with JAXA on Thursday at its headquarters in Yokohama, south of Tokyo.

Using the Japanese automaker’s electric four-wheel driving technology, the exploration vehicle will be able to run efficiently on the sandy surface of the moon without the wheels spinning freely too much.

The surface of the moon is covered with fine sand, which makes it difficult for exploration vehicles to gain traction.

Nissan, which began the joint research with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in January last year, adopted its motor control technology for electric vehicles and the e-4ORCE four-wheel drive control technology in the lunar exploration vehicle.

The company plans to install e-4ORCE in its new Ariya electric vehicle and also hopes to incorporate technologies evolved through the joint project in its own vehicles.

Among rival automakers, Toyota Motor Corp. is also collaborating with JAXA to develop a lunar exploration vehicle that utilizes fuel cell technologies.