Hyundai to Develop Lunar Rover for Surface Exploration

Hyundai Motor Group has announced that it is developing a lunar exploration mobility rover, in collaboration with aerospace partners, as part of its efforts to expand human reach and the scope of human mobility experiences. The Group signed a joint multilateral research agreement with six Korean research institutes in the aerospace sector in July 2022, to develop a mobility solution for lunar surface exploration.

The consultative body includes the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI), Electronics and Telecommunication Research Institute (ETRI), Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT), Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), and Korea Automotive Technology Institute (KATECH).

The Group is using its Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation’s advanced robotics and autonomous driving technologies, driving system, and charging parts, as well as Hyundai Rotem’s robot manufacturing technology, as part of a multi-purpose mobility platform for the lunar rover.

The lower section of the rover will be occupied by the Group’s components, while the upper section will consist of scientific payloads for lunar surface exploration. The rover will have thermal management function and radiation shielding to withstand the extreme environment of the lunar surface.

Following discussions with various stakeholders, the Group has decided on the initial direction for the lunar exploration mobility development model. The Group expects to complete the initial test unit as soon as the second half of 2024 and aims to create a model that has launch capability in 2027.

“Hyundai Motor Group has consistently stated its goal is to contribute to expanding human reach and the scope of human mobility experiences,” said Yong Wha Kim, Executive Vice President, and Head of R&D Planning & Coordination Center of Hyundai Motor and Kia. “The creation of the lunar exploration mobility development model not only reflects this goal but also shows our ambition to achieve tangible results in the face of significant challenges. With the rover’s development, we are moving beyond land, sea, and air mobility to expand into space mobility.”

Once the lower part of the rover is developed, the consultative body expects it to function as a mobility platform, supporting an upper part that will hold a variety of advanced technologies for digging, excavation, and human exploration of the lunar surface for resources. The goal is to deliver a universally applicable mobility platform to handle a variety of payloads.

Before the rover can be sent to the Moon, the Group will conduct mission-based performance testing of the development model in an environment similar to the Moon’s surface and make refinements based on the test results. The solar-powered, autonomous driving mobility unit will weigh around 70 kg.

The plan is to land the rover near the south pole area of the moon to carry out various scientific missions. The lunar rover is expected to explore the surface of the Moon to gather data for research, collect samples for testing, and provide valuable insights into the history and evolution of our natural satellite.

The development of the lunar rover by Hyundai Motor Group is a significant milestone in the history of space exploration. With this project, the Group aims to contribute to expanding human knowledge of the universe and to advance our understanding of the Moon’s geology and its potential for supporting human life.