The space race is on again, thanks to google. 5 different teams with one mammoth challenge: Send a rover to the moon, drive it for at least 500m and send high resolution images back to earth. This is part of the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition which was pitched to engineers and entrepreneurs all over the world. The winning team will be awarded 20 million U.S dollars with the runners up receiving 5 million U.S. dollars.
Audi teamed up with the German team ‘Part Time Scientists’ in early 2015 to bring this endeavor to fruition. The Lunar Rover to be used has been developed by Audi in conjuction with the Part Time Scientists. It will run on electricity derived from Audi’s E-Tron battery and will utilize Audi’s Quattro all wheel drive system. An extensive amount of work has gone into engineering the Moon Rover with Audi using 3 D printed aluminium components to bring the weight down from 38kg to 30kg. The Lunar Quattro will also have four cameras installed to guide the Rover but also to take 360 degree and 3D pictures.
The Part Time Scientists have booked a launcher(a vehicle used to ferry people, equipment, etc from the earth’s surface to outer space)with Spaceflight Inc. which has a carrying capacity of about 100kg. Two Rovers will be on board plus other research equipment from NASA, the European Space Agency(ESA)and Wikipedia who are also funding the project.
The launch is scheduled for late 2017. Until then Audi and the Part Time Scientists will be running further tests on the two Lunar Quattro Rovers and simulating the entire mission in the Middle East.
Audi hopes to gain a better understanding of how the different components in use in the Rovers behave in extreme conditions. This will in turn aid them in perfecting their cars as the technology used and knowledge gained will trickle down to their main stream cars.