Audi’s Latest Quattro Project Is an All-Wheel-Drive Moon Rover

Audi XPrizeAudi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system appears in a lot of different vehicles, from the small and sort-of-affordable A3 mini-luxury sedan to the fire-breathing R8 supercar. Now, Audi is taking Quattro even further—to the moon, in fact, as a technical support partner for the Part-Time Scientists team competing for the Google Lunar XPrize.

The competition, sponsored by the all-but-ubiquitous tech giant, offers a $30 million prize to “incentivize space entrepreneurs to create a new era of affordable access to the Moon and beyond.” To win, Audi explains, “a privately funded team must successfully place a robot on the moon’s surface that explores at least 500 meters and transmits high-definition video and images back to Earth.”

That’s a tall order, to be sure. Particularly the “privately funded” part. Which explains why Part Time Scientists were probably more than happy to slap the four-ring logo and “Quattro” name on their experimental rover. As the only German team competing in the Lunar XPrize, Part Time Scientists was probably the natural choice for Audi.

The automaker says it’s helping out Part Time Scientists by lending its expertise in lightweight construction, electric vehicle mobility, piloted driving, and of course, Quattro all-wheel-drive. Now known as the Audi Lunar Quattro, the rover sports mostly aluminum construction, a solar-charged lithium-ion battery, and of course, hub motors at all four wheels. Two front-facing stereoscopic cameras aid in navigation, while a third high-resolution camera analyzes scientific specimens. Top speed is a rousing 2.2 mph (one meter per second), making this undoubtedly the lowest-performing Quattro ever.



If all goes to plan, Part Time Scientists will send the Audi Lunar Quattro hurtling on a rocket to the moon in 2017. The experimental rovers will land north of the moon’s equator, near the 1972 landing site of Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the moon. As for us, we prefer to pilot our Audis here on earth.

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