PARIS: Monaco-based group Venturi, known for its automobiles, recently unveiled its FLEX (Flexible Logistics and Exploration) lunar rover.
The rover is designed to play a role in future scientific and commercial missions to the Moon. Compared with other similar projects, it stands out for its large size and its ability to be piloted remotely. FLEX is scheduled to reach the Moon in 2026, using SpaceX's Starship launcher.
The program for Venturi's electric lunar rover project debuted in 2019. To develop this project, two new structures were created: one in Switzerland (Venturi Lab) to develop materials that could resist extreme conditions, high-performance solar panels and "deformable wheels," and the other in the USA for the vehicle's structural design, mechanisms and software development.
The hostile lunar environment poses a multitude of challenges, as the rover must be able to cope with extreme temperatures — as low as -230 degrees Celsius — as well as withstand radiation and operate in darkness.
In 2026, FLEX is scheduled to land on the Moon and complete its missions, piloted on site by an astronaut or remotely from a lunar base or space station.
The craft will be able to accommodate two astronauts and carry various lunar samples. Solar panels will be used to charge it, whether it's on the move or stationary.
The Venturi Group specialises in the design of high-performance electric vehicles and boasts a series of speed records on two or four wheels.
With FLEX, Venturi now wants to take its technology to the moon. The Monegasque group is not the only automaker to be working on lunar vehicles, as Nissan, Hyundai and General Motors have also ventured into the domain.