If Japan decides to launch a mission to the moon, rest assured, a Nissan will be along for the ride.
The Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. has shown its hand in advancing its expertise in vehicular manufacturing with an advanced lunar rover. At the recent Nissan Futures event, Nissan showcased its new lunar rover prototype, which was jointly developed with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Nissan has been working with JAXA on driving controllability of the rovers since January 2020. A key technology for space exploration, a lunar rover must be able to traverse the Moon‘s powdery, rocky, and undulating terrain and be energy efficient. Furthermore, energy sources for operating vehicles in space are limited.
Nissan’s research applies the motor control technology it has developed through its production of mass-market electric vehicles such as the LEAF as well as the e-4ORCE all-wheel control technology featured on the all-new Ariya electric crossover. In particular, it is e-4ORCE that is boosting the lunar rover’s performance over tricky terrain.
From The Earth To The Moon
In its joint research with JAXA, Nissan is evolving e-4ORCE technology to improve its performance in sandy terrain and other harsh conditions. When cars are driven in sand their wheels frequently spin and dig in, impeding progress.
A high level of driving skill is required to avoid getting stuck. To meet this need, Nissan has developed driving-force controls that minimize the amount of wheel spin in accordance with surface conditions. Through the joint research, Nissan aims to contribute to the technological evolution of automotive technology and space exploration technology by sharing knowhow gained from test-vehicle development and combining it with JAXA’s knowledge of rover research.
“By conducting research with Nissan, which has expertise in electrified technologies, we hope to apply our findings to the development of higher-performance lunar rovers,” explains JAXA Director of the Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center, Ikkoh Funaki.
Toshiyuki Nakajima, general manager of the Advanced Vehicle Engineering Department in charge of e-4ORCE control development at Nissan on the other hand admits that the knowhow gained from this joint research with JAXA will lead to innovations in Nissan vehicles that will bring benefits to customers.
EV All-Wheel Control Technology
Over the years, Nissan has focused on the development of stable driving performance that enables customers to drive their cars with greater confidence. Nissan’s e-4ORCE technology precisely controls all four wheels independently, providing the driver with confidence in various conditions.
One of the first models to feature this advanced technologies is the Nissan Ariya e-4ORCE. Scheduled to arrive in summer of 2022, the model is equipped with front and rear electric motors. The torque of each motor can be individually controlled to provide traction during acceleration.
When decelerating, the amount of regeneration is individually adjusted for the front and rear motors. When braking, e-4ORCE minimizes dive and body shake. Around corners, the torque of the front and rear motors and the braking performance of the four wheels are managed to ensure smooth and comfortable handling. These controls enable drivers of all skill levels to confidently navigate various road conditions, including rain and snow.
(Images: Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.)