Audi Sending a Rover to the Moon, Competing in Google Lunar XPRIZE

Audi is a car company with so much ambition that this planet can't contain it. 45 years ago, Apollo 17 was the last manned mission to the moon. Now the Germans want to go there too. While the craft doesn't have a man on board, it's still one of the most complex projects ever undertaken by a car company.
Audi lunar quattro 8 photos
Photo: Audi
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Known simply as the Audi lunar quattro, the rover features super-lightweight construction, electric mobility and piloted driving. All the technologies Audi is crazy about right now are condensed into this small machine the size of a toy buggy.

Audi isn't going at it alone, as they've joined forces with the Part-Time Scientists team. Together, these German engineers are working within the guidelines of the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition. Whoever wins will get $30 million, but Audi is happy with putting the quattro badge where no other car brand has gone before.

“The concept of a privately financed mission to the moon is fascinating,” says Luca de Meo, Audi Board Member for Sales and Marketing. “And innovative ideas need supporters that promote them. We want to send a signal with our involvement with the PartTime Scientists and also motivate other partners to contribute their knowhow.”

When? How? Where?

Audi says it expects the launch will take place in 2017. A rocket will leave Earth's gravitational pull and travel the whole 380,000 kilometers (236,000 miles) to the moon. After a five-day flight, the rover will reach the satellite's equator, landing near the 1972 sight of the Apollo 17 mission.

The quattro craft is constructed from aluminum to keep weight to a minimum. Extra electric energy is provided by a 100 Watt solar panel with 60-degree adjustability. Four electric wheel hub motors offer propulsion and thanks to their swiveling pivots will allow the vehicle to move in any direction. The theoretical maximum speed is 3.6 km/h (1.8 miles). Most importantly, slopes of over 10 degrees can be climbed.

The head at the front of the vehicle carries two stereoscopic cameras as well as a scientific camera that examines materials. This data will be sent back to Earth for examination.

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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