I imagine looking at the BMW EV9 concept evokes an absolute opposite response to looking at the edgy Cybertruck or a Lamborghini. It utilizes curves through and through, in a bid to modernize and refamiliarize the classic E9’s design language, making it more friendly, contemporary, and pure… while still retaining an element of sportiness.
Designed by Abraham Chacko, the EV90 is a direct rebuttal of how major car companies approach modern car designs. Rising beltlines and shrunken DLOs (DayLight Openings) often make cars look sleeker, but end up creating a claustrophobic interior by really closing you into the cabin. The EV9’s response is to make a car that feels almost meditative, and comes with a larger DLO that allows more light to enter the interiors of the vehicle. Every element of the EV9 focuses on reinterpreting details and minimizing distraction without affecting the car’s performance. The beltline on the outside runs along the vehicle as a black line, and integrates the indicators on the front within it, creating two large L-shaped strips that are easily visible from the front as well as the sides. Just like its ancestor, the E9, the EV9 sports two spherical headlights on each side, and comes with the iconic BMW kidney grille. However, the grille plays the roll of a small, placeholder detail – considering the car is an electric-powered one. The minimalist, pure vibe on the outside gets carried to the inside too, with comfortable plush cushion seats, and a dashboard that’s reduced to two circular displays with no controls. Instead, an AI helps with the finetuning of all the features of the car, giving you the ability to completely focus on the road ahead and enjoy the driving experience.
The one undeniable benefit a good award program brings is mileage. A great product is only great if it vastly benefits a large group of people, right? In that regard, awards can often help push a product to greatness, taking its design, its inherent features, and the business behind it and propelling all of them forward. This exposure, along with the award’s own benefits, can help accelerate a product’s growth, getting more people to see it, fall in love with it, and have their lives positively impacted by it. This also happens to be the motto of the International Design Awards.
Conceived by a group of designers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs in 2007 as a response to the lack of recognition and celebration for smart and sustainable multidisciplinary design, the International Design Awards, or the IDA, recognize, celebrate, and promote great designs while also uncovering hidden talent. The awards, assembled by the Farmani group (who also created the Annual Lucie Awards for Photography) are peer-reviewed and anonymously judged by an influential jury panel of experienced academics and established design industry professionals. Winners of the IDA receive a spectacular trophy, designed by Ron Taft, along with exposure to IDA’s vast design network, helping give your brand and your designs the boost they need.
Currently in their 14th year, the IDA Awards are accepting entries across 5 major disciplines – Architectural Design, Interior Design, Graphic Design, Fashion Design, Product Design. Scroll down to take a look at some of the inspirational winners of last year’s IDA Awards, and visit the IDA website to participate!
01. Nintendo Flex by Yeon Jae Yoon (Gold Winner – Consumer Electronics and Cameras)
The Nintendo Flex comes with a few very welcome updates. Bigger screen on a device that’s the same handy size (albeit thinner). The screen’s also mildly curved, giving you a slightly panoramic experience and adding just a tiny couple of more display inches into the same framework. The Flex retains the same keys and controls, but gives them a makeover too, opting for flushed surfaces rather than the original GameBoy’s chunky keys that stood out from the surface. There’s even a contrast slider on the side of the Flex. The Flex’s biggest overhaul, however, is the change in Nintendo’s cartridge system. Flex ditches the large squarish cartridges for something much sleeker and thinner, looking almost like a stylus. The stylus-sized cartridge slides conveniently into a slot in the Flex’s base, locking in place and becoming impossible to remove while in the middle of gameplay.
02. TORQ by Neuron EV (Gold Winner – Transportation)
The TORQ by California-based Neuron is the latest entrant into the electric semi-truck game. Unveiled in December 2019, the TORQ boasts of a smooth, aerodynamic exterior that rivals the Tesla Semi, with an interior that’s spacious and comfortable, even featuring living quarters for the driver to stay in over long road-trips.
03. Rotofarm by Bace (Bronze Winner – Design for Sustainability)
The Rotofarm’s unique format allows you to grown different herbs and microgreens within its donut shape, giving you a veritable kitchen garden that fits right on your kitchen counter! The circular farmbed rotates at a speed of 1 rotation per hour, while a lamp in the center provides artificial sunlight to help your plants grow. Plant growth is accelerated as they spend half their time upside-down in negative gravity, and the entire device, which measures just 30 centimeters in width, offers 1.5 meter-long farm bed that’s perfect to grow all sorts of plants and veggies!
04. E2H: Earth To Humanity Lamps by Ross Lovegrove (Gold Winner – Illumination Design)
Portuguese lighting specialists Vista Alegre partnered with visionary British designer Ross Lovegrove to create E2H: Earth To Humanity, a series of uniquely complex lamps cast in translucent porcelain. The biggest challenge was creating large lamps with incredibly thin cross-sections, enough to allow light to pass through. LEDs built into the lamps help showcase their detailed organic patterns, a signature element of Lovegrove’s designs.
05. Nook Pod by Do Company (Bronze Winner – Design for Social Impact)
Nook pods are modular & mobile neuro-inclusive spaces, designed to provide a sheltered environment, separate from the hustle and bustle of public areas. Shaped to look quite literally like a house, the Nook pods feel welcoming and intimate, and cozy cushioning running from the backrest all the way till the ceiling help dampen audio too, creating both a visually as well as audibly soft environment. Besides, they help isolate groups too, making areas like libraries, restaurants, and cafés much safer.
06. Cord/Code Chair by Oniki Design Studio (Gold Winner – Home Interior Products)
If you’re confused by the Cord/Code chair, let me assure you that you’re not the only one. The use of clear, refractive acrylic slabs and metal wire create a seating that’s surely difficult to look at and fathom, but is the complete opposite when you sit on it. The acrylic and wire combination seem hostile and confusing at first, but are comfortable once you’re actually sitting down. The acrylic frame of the chair helps hold together 124 wires that form the seat and backrest. Sit down and the wires behave like fabric, bending to accommodate your body. Your eyes may be confused by the way the chair looks, but the rest of you won’t be, once you settle in!
07. Call Vision by Hakan Gursu/Designnobis (Gold Winner – Children Products)
Call Vision is a safe, tracking wearable designed to link new-borns to their mothers. The tamper-proof bands are made from silicone and are placed on the babies as soon as they’re shifted to the neonatal ward. An estimate of 28,000 babies get switched in hospitals every year. The Call Vision tracking bracelet helps connect the baby to its mother, preventing any chance of mismatch when the time comes for the mother and child to leave the hospital.
08. Snoo by Yves Behar/fuseproject (Silver Winner – Children Products)
Snoo is a smart bassinet that solves the age-old problem of sleepless nights for new parents, designed in collaboration with world-famous pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp. The robotic bassinet uses a combination of gentle rocking movements and calming noises whenever it detects a baby getting restless or crying – helping them go back to sleep without disturbing the parents. The enclosed design uses a mesh that keeps mosquitos out while still allowing parents to see their baby. An additional Sleep Sack helps swaddle the young ones, keeping them on their back for the first 6 months (as is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics).
09. Labor Saving Modular Axe by Shenzhen Hanma Creative Technology (Gold Winner – Outdoor And Exercise Equipment)
The Labor Saving Axe comes with a unique design that multiplies the power you put in while swinging it. A hollow channel runs along the inside of the handle, with a weight connected to a spring at the base. Swing the axe and the weight travels from the base to the top due to centrifugal force. The top instantly becomes heavier, allowing you to apply much more force while chopping. After you complete your swing, the spring pulls the weight back to the base (where your hands are) to ensure you don’t feel any weight-imbalance. The axe even comes with modular blades that you can switch out based on the activity you’re engaged in!
10. Lightweight Skateboard by Wang He/Hanma Creative (Gold Winner – Outdoor And Exercise Equipment)
This porous skateboard may seem outwardly fragile, but it’s designed and engineered to be as strong as any other regular skateboard, if not stronger. Designed to be more sturdy and ecologically conscious than wood, the Lightweight Skateboard is die-casted using a magnesium alloy that’s finished using CNC Machining. The high-strength, low-weight skateboard comes with an adjustable wheel-base too, giving it even more of an edge over your regular wooden skateboard!
The electric motorcycle market is growing ever so steadily and the demand is rising every single day. Owning a powerful e-bike is exciting since it brings a whole new dimension to the two-wheeler market, and Volcon wants to tap a major chunk of it as early as possible. The Volcon Grunt electric motorcycle is here and the fat wheeled bulky commuter does impress with its bold profile. Whether it can take on the likes of Zero SR/S electric motorcycles is a question we’ll leave for another day – for now, the off-road bike looks good for the street-legal skirmish as well as adventure trips to the local trails.
The Texas-based startup’s first-ever EV – the Grunt has a hundred-mile range which can be doubled with a spare battery. The bike gets its power from the 50 horsepower engine that transmits power to the rear wheels. With the top speed of 60 mph and acceleration from zero to top speed in six seconds, one can’t be sure of winning a night street race, but the two-wheeler provides enough traction to conquer a slushy road, that is rest-assured. To make it an all-weather tough ride, Volcon has made is completely waterproof – enough to make it go completely submerged in a flowing river and come out the other side without any damage. That is further reassured with the 12-inches of ground clearance paired to the fat knotted tires. After looking at e-bikes that have become sleeker with time, this hulking design takes us back to the raw, primal aesthetics that made us fall in love with the Harley Davidson’s and Royal Enfield’s in the first place!
Volcon has plans to start delivering the compact Grunt bike by early 2021 at a price tag of $995. The bike might be a tad more than your average 200c single-cylinder farm bike but the prospect of low maintenance, fully independent of fuel expenses, and a multitude of uses makes this electric bike a good prospect when it arrives.
We’re seeing an unprecedented shift to biking. It’s healthy, inexpensive, and in a world where we’re all working from home, it’s more expedient because commutes are usually much shorter – to the grocery or a friend’s place and back. However, it has its share of issues too… Most biking accidents occur because bicycles are inherently quiet and relatively invisible – especially in low-light conditions.
The FARO helmet hopes to make bicycling safer and more convenient during this cycling-boom. It comes with a sleek design that’s reminiscent of the kind of helmets scooterists wear, and sports LED strips on the front and back, along with their signature Hidden Light that helps people around you be aware of your presence. The helmet’s integrated lights are a more effective alternative to bike-mounted lights that often get stolen or just aren’t visible enough because they are located down low. Given that FARO’s lights are at eye level, they provide maximum visibility too, while also giving an indication of the direction you’re looking in.
By combining safety along with style, and a slew of smart features, the FARO is a helmet that’s designed to be desirable. Its sleek hard-shell design comes with minimalist vents for easy air-circulation, a weatherproof Fabric Liner on the back, and a uniquely pleasant magnetic closure around your chin. While its sleek, minimalist aesthetic truly sets it apart (making it perhaps one of the few helmets you’ll WANT to wear), its smart features like the automatic brake-light, fall-detection, and a sleek handlebar remote (for the indicators) give it the edge over most off-the-shelf bike helmets.
The FARO helmet comes with a protective ABS+PC outer-shell that conforms to International Certification standards, along with a MIPS inner for extra safety. It features an LED strip on the front as well as the back, but its most defining element is the Hidden Light that sits under the fabric liner. All the lights can be personalized via the FARO app, allowing you to set colors and patterns a battery consumption. The helmet has an automatic brake-light built in and uses an accelerometer to detect when you’re slowing down. The handlebar remote lets you easily switch on the FARO’s indicator system, which lets drivers behind know which way you’re turning. You can also connect your helmet to the app and activate the fall-detection feature, allowing you to send out an SOS alert to an emergency contact if you ever suffer a fall.
The helmet comes in 3 sizes, with 4 different colors to choose from. Once you determine your size, an internal fitting mechanism lets you adjust the fit perfectly to the circumference of your head. Made to be worn anytime, and even in any weather, the FARO comes IPX6-certified, which means it can easily handle rainfall. An internal 1850mAh battery allows you to use the helmet’s smart-features for up to 10 hours on a full charge, and the helmet also has a USB port that allows you to charge it every few days – so that you’re always visible and always safe!
Designers: Javier Bertani, Marcos Madia & Juan Garcia Mansilla
FARO by UNIT 1: A Sleek, Visibility-First Smart Helmet
A smart helmet that delivers style, safety, and comfort with a state-of-the-art light system, ventilation, MIPS, and fall detection.
Cycling accidents on the street are often caused by a lack of visibility and unclear communication. Drivers and other riders not seeing you well enough or not knowing what you’re going to do next. 80% of riders use cycling lights and still don’t feel safe. Why? Because they’re small and sit quite low. On top of that, they are easily lost, forgotten, or even stolen.
Helmets usually work the same way as seatbelts: they only work for you the second you get hit (which can save your life obviously).
How can a helmet work for you all the time? You put lights on it. They are bigger, much higher and more visible than regular cycling lights – that’s exactly what they did with FARO.
Stay Comfortable & Safe
Every FARO was designed up to International Certification standards. To take it up a notch, they partnered up with MIPS – a Swedish company at the forefront on helmet safety – to take FARO to the next level in terms of safety.
FARO’s backside features a fabric-covered portion. This fabric is tough, tear-proof and waterproof, the same kind used in those speakers you can throw in the pool.
But how do you put lights on a helmet without making it look like sci-fi? You cover them up with a classy fabric liner. During the day you rock that fabric that looks & feels amazing. At night…the magic happens.
The Navigation Remote
Sometimes being visible is not enough and you need to let others know you’re stopping or about to make a turn. FARO can be upgraded with a handlebar remote to incorporate an automatic brake-light and turn signals.
The FARO App
There is a great degree of functionality in the app that will let you personalize your helmet in every way and even measure & track what your riding does for the environment (as opposed to driving).
Perfect For Any Weather
Designed up to IPX6 waterproof rating. The electronics are fully sealed and the fabric – in case you were wondering – is the same fabric used on Bluetooth speakers.
As planet Earth grows too chaotic for habitation in the near future, the next frontier is definitely Mars. NASA has been working hard on Mars missions currently underway and the ones that are lined-up for the future, and the dream doesn’t look too distant when humans will set foot on the planet. The final destination being to colonize the red planet just like ours. The surface of the hostile planet is a challenge to explore and an aerial vehicle that can survey the surface of the planet in close proximity for the ground units to zero-in on the hot spots to scan on priority makes complete sense.
The Mars Aerial Exploratory Drone 2030 which is the brain-child of 3D Generalist Anton Weaver aims to be the lead aerial surveillance vehicle that helps in tracking out the key habitat zones or detect any unknown threats in advance with its vantage position up in the air. The drone is inspired by the NASA Mars Helicopter which is planned for use with the scouting tasks for the future Mars rovers. According to Anton, the drone is more advanced than NASA’s iteration, with “bigger, smarter, and more utility.” It has soft landing pads for any surface on the planet and runs on the solar power of the sun.
That said the primary objective of the drone will be to identify the points of interest for the research team and detect sites that’ll be of interest to the ground team. The aerial vehicle can also perform drilling tasks to bring back samples if the identified zone is too tough for the rovers to tackle. The idea by Anton is quite future-forward and if a prototype of this concept vehicle is designed, who knows, it could actually scout the Mars surface come year 2030!
Elon Musk had plenty to crow about during Tesla’s Q3 2020 earnings call on Wednesday. “Q3 was our best quarter in history!” Musk exclaimed. The company recently announced that it had produced a record 145,036 vehicles this quarter, delivering 139,300...
Speak of electric vehicles and the first name that pops up in our head is Tesla. Being run by Elon Musk who has been compared to Iron Man of our times more often than not, Tesla lately topped the charts by becoming the most valuable automotive company in the world. One thing that Tesla’s success proves is that the world still values innovation. Inspired by Tesla’s habit of pushing the envelope, the product designers can’t stay far behind in their conceptual designs and the collection showcased here tells the same story. Each angular, edgy and innovative design inspired by Tesla is designed to take the automotive world by storm!
Named after the very man who pioneered the edgy, angular, low-poly aesthetic, the Brubaker Box by Samir Sadikhov is a minivan inspired by the designs of Curt Brubaker – whose work also directly influenced the design of the Tesla Cybertruck. The Brubaker Box is essentially designed for families who want to adopt the Cybertruck aesthetic without necessarily buying a pickup. Made possibly for edgy soccer moms, the minivan comes with a slightly softer low-poly design that’s more approachable and friendly (after all, you want to look more like a family person and less like you’re Mad Max-ing your way through life).
If any company had to build something as outlandish as a pod system with a fixed electric powertrain platform and an interchangeable upper pod based on use, it would probably be Tesla. Designed as a part of his thesis project, Fábio Martins’ conceptual Tesla Pod system is pretty intriguing and especially makes sense, given that Musk is launching the Boring Tunnel project that will only work with a handful of cars that are compatible with the underground travel system. The idea for the Pod is simple. The electric powertrain base is common to all modes of transport, while the upper part alternates between three different pods that serve three different purposes… one for public transport, one for private transport, and one for commercial transport.
Designed with sheer attention to detail, the pickup is envisioned as a part of Tesla’s Model P series, by Istanbul-based designer, Emre Husmen. The conceptual Model P (let’s just call it that for now) is a brilliant exercise in brand and form semantics… that’s a fancy-design-jargon way of saying that it looks exactly like something Tesla would launch. With the beautiful razor-thin headlamps and taillamps, the absence of a radiator-grille on the front (thanks to its electric build), and aesthetic features and detailing that are just innately Tesla, the conceptual pickup truck looks both fast and dominating together. It comes with a four-door setup and a pretty high ground clearance. An off-road Tesla? I’d quite like to see that, Mr. Musk.
The Tesla x SpaceX x BTTF combination comes from the mind of Charlie Nghiem, a maverick automotive designer who’s even made a Tesla x Rimowa concept collab. This holy-trinity mashup features both of Elon Musk’s current ventures, electric automobile company Tesla, and space exploration venture SpaceX, along with an unlikely third, the DeLorean from Back To The Future (Musk is a Rick and Morty fan, so maybe he loves BTTF too?) The car looks like a pimped out Tesla Roadster complete with all the trims and the massive afterburners from the BTTF automobile. The car’s even got a hoverboard casually resting against its side, and features a SpaceX logo at the base of the C pillar, because where they’re going, they don’t need roads.
Created by automotive designer Alex Baldini Imnadze, the SpaceTruck is a concept created as a dream collaboration between Tesla and SpaceX. Unlike Tesla’s original semi-truck, the SpaceTruck is more situation-specific, designed to transport rocket parts and the Dragon crew around and between facilities. Citing Syd Mead as his primary source of inspiration, Baldini says the SpaceTruck was created as an effort to embrace ‘Astro-design’, creating a vehicle that visually represented the space-age we’re currently in. The SpaceTruck’s design language mimics the Dragon Crew Capsule, with a similar white and black color combination. Needless to say, the truck is entirely powered by an electric drive-train and features a cockpit that sits above all the machinery, jutting out too, to slightly resemble the SpaceX astronaut helmet.
There’s an obvious lack of two-wheelers in Tesla’s product portfolio, and James Gawley took it upon himself to fill that void, at least with a concept. Meet the Tesla Model M… designed to make electric bikes more of the status quo, the Model M comes with a unique aesthetic that deliberately chooses to create a negative space in its design where the fuel-tank would be, almost poking fun at its fuel-guzzling ancestors. The bike’s curvy outer body harks to the curvilinear design-language of its sedans like the Model X and Model S, and a massive dashboard occupies a significant amount of space where you’d expect the fuel tank’s inlet – giving you a whole host of data from your speed and battery level to the bike’s performance and even a detailed map to help you navigate.
Powered by the kind of AI you’d find in autonomous vehicles (with 4K cameras and sensors that can accurately identify objects in her path), the Toadi is practically the Tesla of lawnmowers. Designed to work less like a robot and more like a living organism, the Toadi reinvents a category that hasn’t seen a significant-tech upgrade… and yes, Toadi is a ‘her’. The Toadi uses 4K cameras to ‘see’ the way humans do. She accurately differentiates between grass, gravel, cemented paths, and even identifies and avoids objects like animals, toys, flower-beds, and fences. Using a sensing and tracking system that’s much more superior to the LiDAR sensors and GPS chips found in home-cleaning robots, the Toadi effortlessly moves around the lawn on her own, mowing in straight lines, crossing over to other parts of the lawn if need be, avoiding flower-beds, objects, or pets (and other garden animals), and staying clear off fences.
If Elon tweeted the Cybertruck design as a cool designer-made concept, I’d definitely appreciate it for its game-changing design. That being said, the Cybertruck has also sparked its fair share of design concepts created using the low-poly design language as inspiration… and I’ll be honest. Some of them are pretty dope. Take for instance the Rimac 2080 Hyper Cyber, a concept by 3Dmente Digital. Designed as a part of Rimac’s Design Challenge on Instagram, the Hyper Cyber is an edgy, retro-techno-punkish bike with a low-poly body in the signature metallic finish. The bike sports an unusual seat design that’s molded in a single piece, with negative spaces that give it a cushioning effect, and quite like the Cybertruck, it’s missing rearview mirrors too.
Antonio Paglia sure seems to think the Tesla Helicopter is well on its way. Built in a time where Tesla’s batteries will be able to power large manned airborne vehicles, the Tesla Helicopter carries the company’s DNA, both physically and spiritually. Designed for efficiency and speed, the Helicopter would do well in departments like safety and patrol, allowing the administration to effectively patrol the skies and ground while even in some cases offer assistance in an emergency. Thoughts, Mr. Musk?
Designed for the Cybertruck patron, Tesla enthusiast, and lover of all-things-electric, the Cybunker by Lars Büro is literally styled on the polarizing polygonal design of the pickup truck which launched a month ago. Made to work off the grid, the bunker comes with a roof of solar panels that power its interiors, even providing juice to the two cars that can fit into its garage, accessible by the two folding gates that open just like the Cybertruck’s ‘vault’. The 1800 sq.ft. possesses the ability to double up as an apartment, shelter, storage, or space for commercial activities. Under it lies its infrastructural ‘motherboard’ which houses all of the unit’s utilities and computer systems, as well as the battery bank that stores all the energy generated by the roof.
Urban spaces are getting constricted by the day, and the situation isn’t going to improve in the near future by the look of things. There are countless design iterations that aim to get over this predicament when it comes to mobility in the overcrowded streets. One thing that could however change is the way we balance our work and leisure life. Can’t it be more seamless, set up in a personal space that makes traversing from one place to the other complete fun?
Designer Jun Young Kim’s Renault E.O (Everybody Own Your Space) is a hyper pod of the future – which is more like a second home – giving one the flexibility to be ultra-productive in a distraction-free ambient environment or simply relax with family and friends enjoying the visual elements that traverse you to a place of calm and serenity. The smart glass encapsulating the upper section of the pod can be set to any natural environment mimicking the scene to isolate yourself from the chaos of the outside world. It has two separate modes – Working Day and Resting Day which have interiors tailored for the specific profile. The former is more airy and casual while the latter has a professional set up with things like a movable display and focus aiding distraction-free setup.
The whole idea of this concept design by Jun is to give the user the utmost freedom while in commute to wind-up in a relaxed space or be ready for a quick meeting with an important client. What’s more, the two cabin modes can be ordered as and when required or even exchanged from the service provider. These cabins fit as easily as a Lego piece in the movable pod, so you could be in the beast mode for the complete week and then exchange it up for the weekends to get some quaint time. If you can own both the cabins, what better than that!
The next biggest dream for humankind is to set foot on Mars and colonize the Red Planet. Already NASA has sent rovers to our next prospect home for probing the surface, environment, and other unknown factors. Even visionaries like Elon Musk have their eyes set on colonizing the planet by 2050. Of course, innumerable things need to be sorted to achieve that longing, and one aspect of the dream is to procure suitable vehicles for the hostile environment. Sure four-wheeled carriers are being developed for the jagged surfaces, but a highly maneuverable two-wheeler is something that also needs to be in contention.
Designer Simon Grytten has thought something out of the box and penned it down in the form of sketches for his version of a bike that’s apt for Mars missions. He calls it the NASA Bike and Grytten has designed the mock-up in a way that makes it just more than a medium of transportation. It can charge its own battery as well as the battery of the base station by harnessing the wind energy courtesy of the prominent storms of the planet. NASA Bike turns into a wind turbine when not in use which is a mindful utility in a space where everything needs to be resourceful.
The bike plugs-in to the charging station which is a big generator to keep things running on the hostile planet. For riding the two-wheeler has a very bare-bones basic design for obvious reasons since one is not going to drive it for the thrill of riding, rather get from one place to another, safe and sound. For now, the concept is in the infancy stage and needs to factor in all the dynamics which actually make it feasible. One of them is the practicality of riding the bike in sand storms which would be highly unsafe and the amount of energy the two wheels would be able to generate for such a big generator!
While most automakers are designing electric vehicles for the Earth, Toyota is taking it to the next level by designing vehicles for lunar exploration missions! The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA – basically the Japanese Nasa) and Toyota have been working together to develop a manned, pressurized vehicle for exploring the moon using the power of next-generation hydrogen fuel cells. The lunar vehicle is called ‘Lunar Cruiser’ after Toyota’s famously rugged Land Cruiser and it fits perfectly because the Land Cruiser’s motto is ‘come back alive’ which I am sure will be the motto for the Lunar Cruiser as well!
The vehicle is 20 feet tall and 17 feet wide, it is considered to be the first step in the vision of a future lunar surface-based society as JAXA will use the Lunar Cruiser to explore the moon’s north and south poles. The longest time an astronaut has stayed on the moon has been close to 3 days, but this vehicle is crafted for a 6 week-long manned mission which will be a record in itself. To sustain astronauts and the exploration for six weeks, the Lunar Cruiser will be fitted with solar panels as well as hydrogen fuel cells. Since days and nights on the moon last for two weeks each, the solar panels will generate electricity. Given the long nights, the hydrogen fuel cell can also use water from the electricity generation process for cooling and drinking purposes. The energy generated from the solar panels will be stored and the propulsion will come primarily from hydrogen fuel cells – it is geared to run for 620 miles with one full tank and the mission aims to complete 6,200 miles in 42 days.
Lunar Cruiser is roughly the size of two minibusses and has a 140 square feet living space for two astronauts. It has to be designed to traverse the moon’s harsh surface and be safe enough for the astronauts to remove their suits inside. Since development began in 2019, engineers have relied on simulations to work out powertrain heat management in an airless environment and test tire designs for the coarse, sharp, dusty moon surface. And like a Tesla, it will have automatic driving functions! Testing of the prototype rover’s sub-assemblies is planned to begin next spring and will lead to the construction of a full-scale mule in 2022. So by 2024, we can hope to see a model designed, built, and evaluated for the development team to build the flight model—the one that’ll actually shoot for the stars…and land on the moon.