Audi has thrown its support behind a German team competing in Google’s Lunar XPRIZE challenge, with plans to assist in building a lunar rover.
The team calls itself ‘Part-Time Scientists’, and hopes to achieve the primary aim of the challenge by landing an unmanned lunar craft on the surface of the moon.
Lunar XPRIZE is a $30 million competition aimed at inspiring engineers into creating low-cost methods for space exploration. The competition started with 25 teams, and is now down to 15 for its final round.
The aim is to safely land a craft on the surface of the moon, and then have the craft explore at least 500 metres of the moon’s surface while beaming high-definition images back to Earth.
In paying tribute to Apollo 17 and its crew from 1972, the team hopes to land at the same site as the space craft nearly 45 years later.
So where does Audi fit in?
The carmaker said its quattro all-wheel-drive along with technologies in lightweight construction, robotics and electric mobility will all assist the team as it optimises the design on its lunar rover. The craft will be called the ‘Audi Lunar Quattro’.
“The concept of a privately financed mission to the moon is fascinating, and innovative ideas need supporters that promote them.” Audi’s Luca de Meo said.
“We want to send a signal with our involvement with the Part-Time Scientists and also motivate other partners to contribute their know-how.”
The team aims to send the craft into space in 2017 via a launching rocket, with the hope it will land on the moon after 380,000km over five days.
Once there, the Lunar Quattro will be powered by a solar panel which energises a lithium-ion battery pack. Each of the four wheels will have its own electric motor, and the craft’s top speed is 3.6km/h.