Nissan Motor has revealed a lunar rover prototype jointly developed with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The JAXA Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center is conducting research on lunar rovers – a key technology for space exploration.
Nissan has been working with JAXA on driving the controllability of the rovers since January 2020. The lunar rover is expected to be able to traverse the moon’s powdery, rocky and undulating terrain and be energy efficient while also ensuring effective energy sources for operating vehicles in space.
For this, Nissan has employed its e-4ORCE all-wheel control technology to improve its performance in sandy terrain and other harsh conditions. Nissan’s e-4ORCE technology precisely controls all four wheels independently, providing the driver with confidence in various conditions. The company says its driving-force controls can minimize the amount of wheel spin in accordance with surface conditions. This could prevent the rover’s wheels from digging into the moon’s powdery, rocky terrain and help the lander conserve precious energy.
Nissan announced the Ariya e-4ORCE powertrain system early last year. The system, featured in the Ariya electric crossover and upcoming next-gen Leaf, allows for precise, independent control for all four wheels. It is equipped with front and rear electric motors. The torque of each motor can be individually controlled to provide traction during acceleration. When decelerating, the amount of regeneration is individually adjusted for the front and rear motors. When braking, e-4ORCE minimizes dive and body shake.
Around corners, the torque of the front and rear motors and the braking performance of the four wheels are managed to ensure smooth and comfortable handling. These controls enable drivers of all skill levels to confidently navigate various road conditions, including rain and snow. The Nissan Ariya e-4ORCE model is scheduled to start sales in Japan in the summer of 2022.
“The uses of automobiles and driving situations are wide-ranging,” said Toshiyuki Nakajima, general manager of the Advanced Vehicle Engineering Department in charge of e-4ORCE control development at Nissan. “We aim for the ultimate driving performance through our research and development and believe the know-how gained from this joint research with JAXA will lead to innovations in our vehicles that will bring benefits to customers.”