Mission to the moon: AUDI AG supports the Google Lunar XPRIZE

We all know what Audi’s quattro AWD system stands for, right? Well, it would appear that the German marque is not at all content with Earthlings hearing about its credentials after all. As a result, Audi will (quite literally) aim for the moon in its new venture with a team of German engineers called the Part-Time Scientists.

The team, sponsored and assisted by Audi, will be representing Germany in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition that will see 15 teams vie for a cash prize of over US$30 million. To win, a privately-funded team must “develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration” and place their respective solutions on the surface of the Moon. The aluminium-heavy rover in question is dubbed the Audi lunar quattro.

As a technical partner and sponsor, Audi will lend its expertise in the field of lightweight construction, electric mobility, autonomous driving and, of course, all-wheel drive capabilities. The Audi lunar quattro is propelled forward by four individual hub motors – the rover is powered by a lithium-ion battery that is charged via an adjustable solar panel. Top speed is rated at 3.6 km/h.

In this case, outright speed isn’t the point as the Audi lunar quattro will need to be able to traverse a minimum distance of over 500 metres in rather punishing conditions, hence the need for Audi’s know-how in off-road manoeuvrability. The rover will then be required to record high-definition footage of the Moon’s surface from its twin stereoscopic camera and beam said footage back to Earth to qualify for victory.

The Audi lunar quattro rover is expected to be launched into space by the end of 2017 aboard a launch rocket that will travel a distance of 380,000 km to the surface of the Moon. The target zone for the exploration is set to take place north of the Moon’s equator – close to the landing site of Apollo 17.