Suzuki has signed a corporate partnership agreement with Hakuto, the first privately funded lunar exploration team from Japan to challenge the Google Lunar XPRIZE, operated by ispace technologies, inc. (Headquarters: Minato, Tokyo; President and CEO: Takeshi Hakamada). To accomplish the mission of Google Lunar XPRIZE, which includes landing a privately funded rover on the moon, traveling 500 metres, and transmitting back high definition video and images, Suzuki will consider technical support towards the rover under development by Hakuto.
In order to accomplish the mission, weight saving of the rover, which is crucial in reducing launch cost, and drivability without slipping on the lunar surface, which is covered with powdery sand called regolith, are the major challenges. Suzuki intends to support Hakuto and its mission utilising technologies such as weight saving and traction control, nurtured through creating small cars and four-wheel-drive vehicles.
We are delighted to be able to support Hakuto and its mission of lunar exploration.
Our sympathy with Hakuto challenging the dream with small rover made us decide to support the project, as we ourselves have been contributing to creating affluent societies through manufacturing small cars. We look forward to a successful lunar exploration with the rover utilising Suzuki’s technologies.
Since weight saving of the rover and four-wheel-drive technology are essential, we feel assured as Suzuki joins us. We will consider incorporating Suzuki’s technologies nurtured through manufacturing small cars into the rover.
Suzuki is a motor manufacturer specialised in motorcycles, vehicles and outboard motors, which are developed based on the mission statement principle of “develop products of superior value by focusing on the customer" and cherished around the world. Founded in 1909 as Suzuki Loom Works, Suzuki entered motor vehicle business in 1952 with the motorised bike “Power free”. As for vehicles, since launching the Suzulight in 1955, Suzuki has pursued creating small, lightweight and highly efficient cars such as the Alto, Wagon R and Swift.
Hakuto, which is maintained by ispace technologies, inc, is the sole competitor of the Google Lunar XPRIZE from Japan. Hakuto is comprised of people from diverse backgrounds such as venture capital, engineering, academic research and probono members; they have pooled their ideas, skills and resources to develop the lunar rover. In January 2015, the team was awarded a Mobility Milestone Prize from Google Lunar XPRIZE worth five hundred thousand American dollars. The prize was granted after an independent judging panel followed Hakuto’s progress in qualifying its rover for flight readiness.
Sponsored by Google, the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE, which is maintained by XPRIZE Foundation, is an international space race in lunar robotic exploration. The purpose of this race is to advance privately funded space development, expand the space industry, promote investments to the market, and create sustainable business to develop on the Moon over a long term. The mission is to land a privately funded rover on the Moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit back high definition video and images. The first team will be awarded the $20 million Grand Prize. The second team will be awarded $5 million. Currently, 16 teams are officially participating in the competition worldwide.