NASA indicated its interest in a smorgasbord of mobility systems, such as electric or autonomous lunar rovers that can be recharged or self-navigate hazardous terrain.
Lunar rovers built with materials that can withstand extreme environments are also desirable, the agency said.
Proposed rovers also need to be spacious enough to fit crew members who will be wearing the bulkier extravehicular activity suits they need to stay alive, according to the agency.
NASA also is looking at robotic mobility systems that could be used to send tools and research equipment across the moon. A vehicle without a crew could be used to explore a wider area of terrain with fewer constraints, the agency said.
Hyundai Motor Group revealed one such mobility concept in February — the TIGER X-1. "TIGER" stands for "Transforming Intelligent Ground Excursion Robot"; the"X-1" means the vehicle is in its experimental first iteration.
Part all-wheel-drive vehicle, part walking pod with four extendable legs, the mobility system is designed for travel over rough or unfamiliar terrain, the Korean auto company said.
It's an evolution of Elevate, a similar concept vehicle Hyundai showcased at CES in 2019. The key difference between the two? TIGER X-1 is not intended to carry human passengers.
Testing of TIGER beta prototypes could start as soon as 2023 or 2024.
Once it's developed, the automaker wants TIGER to be deployed both on and off Earth.
The company's hope is that TIGER will be able to carry out a wide range of tasks — from delivering food and medical supplies to humans in remote disaster zones on Earth all the way to carrying payloads across the lunar surface. TIGER designers also intend for it to connect to aerial vehicles without crews — drones and other aircraft that operate autonomously or via remote control — so it can be charged up or delivered to an area otherwise considered unreachable.
TIGER X-1 is a collaboration between Hyundai's California-based New Horizons Studio, Detroit-based product innovation studio Sundberg-Ferar and Autodesk, an engineering design software company.
German automaker Audi has also dabbled in the world of rovers since 2015. The automaker lent support to PTScientists, now Planetary Transportation Systems, a private aerospace startup based in Berlin, to manufacture the Lunar Quattro, a tiny solar-powered rover so named because it incorporates Audi's all-wheel-drive Quattro technology and an E-tron motor.
Audi and PTS officials did not respond to requests for a project update, but the companies previously indicated an intent to send the Lunar Quattro to touch down near the 1972 landing site of Apollo 17 and take 360-degree photographs on the moon.