Today’s podcast was recorded at the Canadian Space Society’s annual Space Summit in Ottawa on November 21st . I spoke with Dr. Kazuya Yoshida of Tohoku University in Japan.
Dr. Yoshida is also a Director and Chief Technology Officer of iSpace, a Japanese New Space startup with ambitions to use the moons resources, water to start, to develop a lunar economic base. iSpace also manages the Japanese Google Lunar X Prize entry, Hakuto.
Dr. Yoshida is a robotics expert and has served as the Director of the Centre of Robotics for Extreme and Uncertain Environments at Tohoku University. He has worked for many years on Japanese robotic missions including the asteroid sample return mission Hayabusa. The technology and rovers developed at his lab at Tohoku University have also been used in disaster response.
We discussed Team Hakuto’s Google Lunar X Prize entry which is dependant on India’s Team Indus for its ride to the moon. Team Indus however is short on cash and may not meet the Google Lunar X Prize deadline of March 31, 2018 to have launched to the moon.
We also discussed iSpace plans beyond the Google Lunar X Prize including their funding needs.
As you’ll hear, iSpace is almost set to announce its first round of equity venture funding.
Dr. Yoshida and his colleagues are also developing what he calls “Cliff Hanger” and “Rock Climber” robotic machines designed for future asteroid exploration and which could also be used on the moon.
Dr. Yoshida and his colleagues have developed a rich knowledge base in microsatellite and rover technology development which are set to be commercialized at iSpace.
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I certainly would be interested in other terrestrial spin-offs that Dr. Yoshida or others have in mind. Certainly, search and rescue, working in hazardous areas like a nuclear plant, etc. are ones we are aware of. Any others people are working on or could be good candidates from R&D into in-situ resource development?
The military in the U.S. has been working on this for some time. Not sure about Canada’s military though. Companies like Canadensys, Neptec, MDA etc have all been working on rovers technology. Clearpath Robotics in Waterloo is doing cool things with terrestrial robotics and rovers.