Audi is going to the moon! The automaker has teamed up with a group of German engineers who refer to themselves as the ‘Part Time Scientists’ and are competing in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition. The competition, which is currently in its final round, pits different teams from around the world against one another as they attempt to develop low-cost robotic space exploration techniques and put a lunar rover of their own on the moon.
The Part Time Scientists will benefit from Audi’s expertise in the fields of light weight construction, electrification, Quattro all wheel drive and piloted driving with their lunar rover, which must be capable of exploring at least 500 meters of the moon’s surface while also relaying high definition video back to earth. Audi and the team’s early draft of the exploration vehicle, dubbed “Audi lunar quattro,” has already been given two Milestone Prizes by a jury of space experts, setting it up well for success in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition.
“The concept of a privately financed mission to the moon is fascinating,” said Audi Board Member for Sales and Marketing, Luca de Meo. “And innovative ideas need supporters that promote them. We want to send a signal with our involvement with the Part‑Time Scientists and also motivate other partners to contribute their know‑how.”
In addition to providing the Part Time Scientists with their automotive know-how, Audi is also using its Concept Design Studio in Munich to make revisions and adjustments to the lunar rover’s lightweight construction. If all goes to plan, the Audi lunar quattro should launch into space in 2017 and travel more than 380,000 kilometers. The final destination? The exact site where NASA’s Apollo 17 landed in 1972.
As for the lunar Quattro itself, it is an aluminum robotic buggy powered by four electric wheel hub motors, which pulls energy from a solar panel and a lithium ion battery. It has a theoretical top speed of just 3.6 km/h, however Audi is confident in its abilities to scale the moon’s rugged surface, which is more important than speed on a lunar mission.