General Motors has ambitions sky high and even beyond as it plans to develop special lunar rovers for the moon, models which would be capable of some serious off-roading and without the need for anyone to be behind the wheels. It could well be a giant step for both man and mankind as the automotive company aims at developing this rover, in partnership with Lockheed Martin, and put in on the surface of the moon in the years to come.
GM announced the project on Wednesday and outlined that it aims to design and develop a rover vehicle that is lightweight and yet rugged enough to tackle the daunting terrain of moon. It won't be the first lunar rover here but it well could be the most sophisticated one, capable of traveling faster and farther than any others in the past.
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GM has the experience. After all, it did help design the rovers - called Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) - used by Apollo 15, 16 and 17 moonwalkers and while marvels no doubt, these rovers were limited by the around 7.6 kilometres that these could travel at most from the landing site.
It is now time for automotive engineering excellence to raise the bar.
US space agency NASA had already called out to the industry last year for ideas on having more capable lunar rovers. As part of its Artemis program, NASA plans to put astronauts on the moon again, by 2024. And while GM is learnt to have not secured any funding yet from NASA, the automaker may have the right credentials to develop the next-generation of lunar rovers with greater distance capability and enhanced autonomous functionality. ""Working together with Lockheed Martin and their deep-space exploration expertise, we plan to support American astronauts on the Moon once again," said Alan Wexler, senior vice president of Innovation and Growth at General Motors.
Many believe that while a greater drive range on the moon is obviously crucial to for improved exploration, greater autonomous drive capabilities are also important to allow astronauts to go about their other tasks like collecting samples and carrying out tests. It could also be a much-needed safety feature as these rovers could be capable of steering clear of dangerous spots and locations.