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Toyota to co-develop lunar rovers with Japan space agency

This photo shows the Toyota Motor Corp. logo on a vehicle displayed at its Toyopet dealership in Tokyo's Shibaura area on May 9, 2018. (Kyodo)

NAGOYA (Kyodo) -- Toyota Motor Corp. will collaborate with the Japan space agency in building rovers that will be sent to explore the Moon, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.

    The Japanese carmaker and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will unveil their lunar rover tie-up next Tuesday at a joint symposium in Tokyo with Toyota Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi and astronaut Koichi Wakata, a JAXA vice president, in attendance.

    JAXA last month succeeded in having the Hayabusa2 space probe touch down on a distant asteroid, beginning the next phase of its mission aimed at discovering new insights into the origin of life and the evolution of the solar system by bringing back to Earth samples of the asteroid's surface.

    The agency will also attempt to send a rover to the Moon with its goal to make a pinpoint landing.

    Toyota, for its part, is expanding its business and has set a goal of transforming itself into a "mobility company" as the auto industry shifts toward developing vehicles of the future, including cars with self-driving capabilities.

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