Japan to fly a transforming ball bot to the Moon next year

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Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is teaming up with Sony, toymaker Tomy, and Doshisha University in flying a baseball-sized transforming robot to the Moon next year.

In a statement released on May 27, JAXA said that the ultra-compact and ultra-lightweight robot will obtain data on the lunar surface ahead of the agency’s launch of its six-wheeled crewed rover in 2029.

Sony will equip the transforming bot with control technologies for data collection, while Tomy and Doshisha University will aid in miniaturizing its design so that it can be easily deployed to the Moon. JAXA will fabricate the droid’s development technologies for handling the space environment.

The 250-gram rover is set to fly to the Moon aboard the HAKUTO-R lander being developed by Japanese lunar robotic company ispace. When it lands on the moon, the spherical bot will transform itself into a running form capable of withstanding the harsh environments on the lunar surface.

If successful, Japan will be joining US, Soviet Union, and China, in the exclusive list of countries that have successfully landed on the Moon.

Read next: China becomes third country to soft-land on Mars

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