Car Companies Are Eyeing the Moon

Clara D. Flaherty

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  • Hyundai and Kia are partnering with six Korean research institutes to develop mobility solutions and technologies for the moon.
  • General Motors is developing similar mobility solutions and technologies alongside Lockheed Martin.
  • The moon gives automakers and systems manufacturers a perfect testbed for new technologies.

    Going to the moon is apparently a battle cry for cryptocurrency enthusiasts, stock market players, and now car companies. Earth’s best satellite hasn’t seen this much attention since America planted a flag on its surface in 1969. Kia and Hyundai announced that the two car companies are working alongside six Korean research institutes to develop lunar surface mobility solutions.

    Kia and Hyundai will work with these companies to develop different tools to conquer the moon’s surface. This agreement will likely lean on the Hyundai Motor Group’s favorite dog-robot company, Boston Dynamics. Hyundai and Kia will be responsible for helping the team develop both the hardware and software for these lunar adventures.

    Other automakers are also working on this latest space race. General Motors partnered with Lockheed Martin last year to help with NASA’s Artemis program, which will bring people back to the Lunar surface and they will need new ways to scoot around the moon upon arrival. General Motors is no stranger to moon-related adventures and was the first automaker to take an EV to the moon during the Apollo 15 mission.

    Likewise, Toyota has been demonstrating its lunar ambitions. Last year, Toyota teamed up with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to develop an all-electric pressurized, manned lunar expedition rover (pictured below) “to take our advanced, versatile and durable Toyota fuel-cell electric technology to the moon.” And if you’ve been shopping Toyota vehicles, have you noticed the names for certain new interior fabrics (“Moonstone”) and exterior paint (“MoonDust” and “Lunar Rock”)?

    toyota jaxa lunar rover

    Toyota

    Using the moon as a testbed for automotive and robotic technologies does make sense. The harsh conditions and the intense problem solving that goes into developing these technologies can work their way into consumer-facing products. The teams at Kia and Hyundai note that the moon’s extreme temperature, cratered surface, and sharp abrasive dust are ideal for testing components.

    It seems like the space race is heating up again, but this time with automakers duking it out for lunar superiority. This could also lead to a literal space race if these companies’ efforts all converge on the face of the moon on a Sunday afternoon to chase the checkered flag.

    Do you think these lunar efforts will come to fruition? Let us know your thoughts below.

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