Originally slated to launch in 2017 but delayed until 2022 (and possibly later than this year) SORA-Q will be delivered to the moon as part of JAXA’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (or SLIM, for short) mission. If all goes to plan, a lander will touch down on the surface of the moon after deploying a communications device that can beam data from the rolling robot back to Earth.

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Image: RoboStart

Once on its own, SORA-Q will transform from a sphere to a rover with semi-spherical wheels on each side and a camera unit on top featuring lenses that face forward and back. The rover’s wheels allow it to roll around on most smooth surfaces like a two-wheeled vehicle (think the self-balancing Segway or hoverboards that were so popular years ago, although SORA-Q will rely on a tail that folds out of the back for balance) but the wheels also have an offset pivot point and can roll out of phase, turning them into a pair of stubby legs that can climb over uneven terrain and obstacles.


How long and far the tiny rover will be able to roam isn’t known, but its range certainly won’t be as impressive as that of the rovers exploring Mars. However, once its batteries are depleted, there’s no reason it couldn’t roll back to the SLIM lander and take advantage of its solar panels to top itself off again. What’s also not known is whether or not TakaraTomy will be able to manufacture toy versions of SORA-Q once the mission launches to the Moon, but there’s little doubt Transformers collectors would line up for days to add a replica to their collections.

A Transformer Is Headed to the Moon
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