Audi’s lunar rover project seemed like a bit of a pipe dream when it first was announced back in 2015. But lo and behold, together with a German-based group called Part-Time Scientists, the automaker has plans to actually send its Quattro rover to the moon – two of them, in fact.
Developed by a group of 16 Audi experts, the Lunar Quattro weighs in at just 30 kilograms (66 pounds) – eight kilograms (17 pounds) lighter than the original example – thanks to a mix of lightweight materials and the use of aluminum 3D printing. It’s powered by Audi’s signature E-Tron battery technology, and though the company doesn’t give any specifics as to its power and range, it will need all the mileage it can get on the lunar surface.
The goal for Audi is not only to test its automotive components in the most extreme conditions (which it will be doing), but also to take home the $30M prize set forth by Google. The Google Lunar XPRIZE will go to the first team able to land a privately funded lander and rover on the moon, drive the rover 500 meters, and send back photos. A big task for such a small machine.
Together with the team at Part-Time Scientists, the ALINA lunar lander, which has a total transport capacity of about 100 kilograms (220 pounds), will launch towards the end of 2017 with two of the Lunar Quattro rovers affixed. The company responsible for the launch, SpaceFlight Industries, has managed as many as 11 rocket launches in the past with different organizations between 2013 and 2015, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
While the design of the Quattro rover is complete, it will still need to undergo some final testing. The dunes of the Middle East will act as a temporary lunar surface before it’s officially ready for its other-worldly travels.
Gallery: Audi Quattro Lunar Rover
It has shed eight kilograms in weight, while also gaining Audi e-tron power: Following extensive tests the “Audi lunar quattro” rover is ready to tackle one of the most difficult terrains of all in exploring the Moon. As well as the development of the lunar vehicle, the mission has now also achieved a further landmark: The German space travel team “Part-Time Scientists” announced yesterday at Audi City in Berlin that it plans to complete the 385,000 km trip to the Moon from the end of 2017 using a launcher booked with Spaceflight Inc. As an early technology partner and ambassador of the Part-Time Scientists’ mission, Audi has been instrumental in generating extensive publicity for the project and bringing other strong partners on board.