print PRINT


Tottori sand dunes serving as site for AR-based experiment for lunar development

  • December 19, 2021
  • , NIKKEI Business Daily digital , 2:00 a.m.
  • JMH Translation

By Matsuzoe Ryosuke


The Tottori sand dunes along the coast of the Sea of Japan in Tottori City are drawing enormous attention from the space industry.


I participated in a “lunar polar expedition” that Amulapo, a space startup based in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, began to offer in November 2021.


The “expedition” allows people to experience resource exploration and development for human habitation on the lunar surface through a simulation in which the sand dunes are used as the lunar surface and the individual wears augmented reality (AR) glasses.  


The simulated experience seems like a fantastic story, but major companies and startups are conducting R&D for lunar development. In fact, Toyota Motor has announced a plan to develop a moon rover powered by fuel cells and Honda Motor is conducting research on fuel cells and water electrolysis technology for use on the lunar surface. Also, major general contractor Kajima Corp. is conducting research on technology for construction of buildings on the lunar surface. The research includes, for example, such devices for the remote control of construction machinery.


But the Japanese public is unfamiliar with lunar development, so there is a need for the nation to give thought to the reasons for going to the moon. Amulapo’s simulated lunar expedition is partly intended to deepen public understanding of lunar development through an AR-based simulated experience in the sand dunes, the best place in Japan for simulation of the lunar surface.


Amulapo President Tanaka Katsuaki, who came up with the virtual lunar expedition, is an engineer specializing in technology for driving a lunar rover.


In the past, the HAKUTO development team organized by ispace, a space startup based in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward in which Tanaka is involved, gave a lunar rover several test runs in the Tottori dunes ahead of a lunar expedition race.


Amulapo takes advantage of its AR-base simulated experience to promote a plan to attract companies to the dunes as a hub for lunar surface experiments by cooperating with a local municipality. In April 2021, the Tottori Prefectural Government established a new division and set the creation of a local space industry as a pillar of the division’s mission. (Abridged)

  • Ambassador
  • Ukraine
  • COVID-19
  • Trending Japan