H-IIA Rocket took off to the moon carrying aboard the “Lunar Excursion Vehicle-1”, a celestial observation rover developed by Professor Yasuharu KUNII (Faculty of Science and Engineering)

On September 7th, 2023, a small type celestial observation rover “Lunar Excursion Vehicle (LEV-1)” which was jointly developed by Professor Yasuharu KUNII of Faculty of Science and Engineering and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was mounted on H-IIA rocket and headed toward the moon.

The moon landing demonstration machine “Smart Lander for investigating Moon (SLIM)” was launched together with the H-IIA rocket which carry aboard the “LEV-1”. “LEV-1” will then be separated and ejected just before the SLIM lands on the lunar surface.

“LEV-1” weighs around 2kg and can jump around the lunar surface autonomously. It mission is to shoot and observe lunar surface as well as to film the landing of SLIM and directly transmit its data to the earth.

It also plays a role of relaying correspondence of observation and motion data of LEV-2 (jointly developed by TAKARA TOMY, and JAXA) which will be ejected from SLIM as well.

In regard of research topics conducted by Professor Yasuharu KUNII at JAXA space exploitation innovation hub, as well as R&D topics of Moonshot R&D Program which Cabinet Office hold position as Project Manager now, “LEV-1” was developed at the same time with small type leaping robot RED series. The RED series are expected to explore lunar surface's caves in the future, so that “LEV-1” also holds the meaning of demonstrating the possibility of future exploitation technique using small type and leaping robot. 

The “Moonshot R&D program” aims to create disruptive innovations originating in Japan, promoting ambitious R&D based on daring ideas that are not just extensions of conventional technologies.

Professor KUNII is one of the valuable experts in AI robot, especially in Space Technology field and moreover, he is a specialist in researching and developing lunar exploitation technique. He promotes the “Moonshot R&D program” of “Intelligent Multi Agents for Exploration and Settlement in Unknown and Unexplored Areas” together with research topics facilitator, with an aim to meet the Moonshot Goal 3 “Realization of AI robots that autonomously learn, adapt to their environment, evolve in intelligence and act alongside human beings, by 2050” (Program Director (PD), Toshio FUKUDA, Visiting Professor, Institute of Innovation for Future Society, Nagoya University)