The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is preparing to send a transforming robot ball to the moon, which sounds like an absolute blast.
According to Futurism, JAXA has partnered with Sony, Doshisha University and popular Japanese toy maker Tomy for the project, which will see the robot study and explore the lunar surface.
The robot, which weighs 2.49kg and measures 3-inches in diameter, will be transported in its ball shape before springing open into its full configuration when it reaches the the moon.
Once in it’s full configuration, which still looks like a high-tech toy you’d play with on Christmas Day before never touching again, the robot will study and take photos of the moon.
“The transformable lunar robot will be an ultra-compact and ultra-lightweight robot that can traverse in the harsh lunar environment,” JAXA stated.
According to iSpace, the small size of the robot, which is roughly the size of a baseball, “contributes to a reduction in volume during transportation to the moon. Therefore, it is expected to play active roles in future lunar exploration missions as well.”
“We are honored that JAXA has entrusted iSpace’s lunar payload transportation service to deliver its robot to the Moon and lay the framework for its future lunar surface exploration,” Takeshi Hakamada, Founder & CEO of iSpace, said.
“We’re also pleased to make history as the first commercial service provider to a governmental lunar surface mission in Japan.”
The technology is being developed by Sony, with Doshisha University and Tomy working to miniaturise the design for ease of transportation.
JAXA started working on the project in 2016, with Sony joining in 2019 and Doshisha joining earlier this year.
In collaboration with iSpace, JAXA will launch the robot using the commercial HAKUTO-R lander in 2022.
The project comes ahead of JAXA’s first crewed rover mission scheduled for 2029.