With a view to establishing a base on the lunar surface, Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is aggressively promoting the research and development of autonomous heavy construction equipment. In the field of removing sand and soil from inaccessible disaster sites, Japan has significantly improved its technological capabilities. In addition to these technologies, the ministry aims to use artificial intelligence (AI) technology in cooperation with companies and educational institutions. Japan hopes to establish a base on the lunar surface by the 1930s by contributing to the Artemis Lunar Exploration Programme led by the United States.
The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has launched a public call and selection process to select the main organizations to carry out the plan. A total of 12 projects will be carried out this year.
Companies such as Shimizu Building are developing unmanned construction systems that use artificial intelligence to detect topography and obstacles on the moon. It then controls the necessary machinery to travel independently and carry out construction activities. Remote activities are difficult due to communication delays between the Moon and Earth, requiring the operation of construction equipment without explicit instructions. In order to achieve automated construction of the lunar outpost, the Shimizu construction spokesman emphasized the need to limit human judgement and interference.
In addition, the Global Positioning System (GPS) cannot be used on the Moon. Companies such as Dacheng Construction are investigating the use of sensor-based position estimation technologies to estimate location information on the lunar surface. In the Tottori sand dunes in Japan, they plan to conduct a simulation experiment for placement on the lunar surface.
One of the selected projects focuses on the construction of large apparatus suitable for stable excavation on the lunar surface, taking into account the much lower gravity of the lunar surface compared to Earth. It will also investigate measurement techniques and produce a 3D geological map of the lunar surface.
By utilizing cutting-edge technologies and creative strategies, Japan hopes to pave the way for the development of a sustainable lunar base through these coordinated efforts. The effective use of AI-driven systems and autonomous heavy construction equipment on the Moon will mark a critical turning point in humanity’s exploration and exploitation of space resources.