Automakers look at the moon

  • Hyundai and Kia are teaming up 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 offers automakers and system manufacturers a perfect test bed for new technologies.

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

    Kia and Hyundai will work with these companies to develop different tools to conquer the surface of the moon. This deal will likely draw on Hyundai Motor Group’s favorite robot dog company, Boston Dynamics. Hyundai and Kia will be responsible for helping the team develop both 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’ll need new ways to get around the moon when they arrive. General Motors is no stranger to moon-related adventures and was the first automaker to take an electric vehicle to the moon during the Apollo 15 mission.

    Similarly, Toyota displays its lunar ambitions. Last year, Toyota partnered with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to develop an all-electric, manned and pressurized lunar expedition rover. (picture below) “to take our advanced, versatile and sustainable fuel cell electric technology to the moon.” And if you’ve purchased Toyota vehicles, have you noticed the names of some new interior fabrics (“Moonstone”) and exterior paints (“MoonDust” and “Lunar Rock”)?

    Toyota

    Using the moon as a testbed for automotive and robotic technologies makes sense. The harsh conditions and intense problem solving required to develop these technologies can affect consumer products. Kia and Hyundai teams note that the moon’s extreme temperature, cratered surface and sharp abrasive dust are ideal for testing components.

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

    Do you think these lunar efforts will bear fruit? Let us know your thoughts below.

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