Team Hakuto has won one Milestone Prize: the Mobility Prize, for a total of $500,000 in prizes...so far! (See the complete $30 million in prizes that are available)
Hakuto is the sole Google Lunar XPRIZE team from Japan, a global leader in space robotics, and a frontrunner among the sixteen privately-funded teams from all over the world who are racing to develop robotic rovers for exploration of the moon.
The team focuses its efforts on furthering the development of its rovers. Their rover development is led by Professor Kazuya Yoshida (Department of Aerospace Engineering at Tohoku University), who has contributed to numerous Japanese space missions---including Hayabusa 2's on-board micro exploration rover Minerva 2, the first rover to land on an asteroid. Hakuto’s operations are performed entirely by volunteer members -- team Pro Bono! The team consists of many professionals from various fields, including those outside of aerospace and scientific fields.
The name Hakuto means “White Rabbit”, and comes from a Japanese folktale wherein the shape of a rabbit can be seen in the dark areas of the lunar surface.
In addition to the Grand Prize, Hakuto will be attempting to win the Range Bonus. Furthermore, Hakuto’s ultimate target is to explore holes that are thought to be caves or “skylights” into underlying lava tubes, for the first time in human history. These lava tubes could prove to be very important scientifically, as they could help explain the moon’s volcanic past. They could also become candidate sites for long-term habitats, able to shield humans from the moon’s hostile environment.
Hakuto is facing the challenges of the Google Lunar XPRIZE and skylight exploration with its unique “Dual Rover” system, consisting of two-wheeled "Tetris" and four-wheeled "Moonraker.” The two rovers are linked by a tether, so that Tetris can be lowered into a suspected skylight. These two rovers have been developed after many iterations of prototyping and testing.
The rovers' designs highlight the strengths of Japanese engineering: the miniaturization of complex machines and tight integration of electronics.
The rovers’ bodies incorporate strong, lightweight, autoclave-molded Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) materials. The wheels are made with thermal insulation material to prevent the extreme heat and cold of the lunar surface (more than 100℃ at noon, below -150℃ at night) from being conducted to the rovers’ bodies.
A hyperbolic mirror camera system on Moonraker enables it to capture 360-degree images. Data from the panoramic camera and other sensors will also be used by the rover in Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) to identify its surrounding environment and estimate its own position.
BEYOND GOOGLE LUNAR XPRIZE
ispace technologies, the company operating team Hakuto, seeks to cultivate the new space industry with the knowledge and experience developed in this project.