Audi: To the Moon!

The Google Xprize is not about the Google Car, though arguably it does have an automotive aspect to it.

The Google Xprize is not about the Google Car, though arguably it does have an automotive aspect to it.

That is, the $30-million competition is about going to the Moon. Yes, an actual space shot.

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But that’s only part of it. The competitors must not only get to the surface of the Earth’s satellite, but they have to put a privately funded lunar rover on it.

And this isn’t a matter of demolition derby with the Moon. The lunar rover then must drive around on the surface—at least 500 meters—and transmit high-definition video and images back to the home planet.

First place: $20-million. Second, $5-million.

Which brings us more directly to the auto industry in the form of Audi.

Audi is working with a group of engineers, technicians and scientists who are operating under the whimsical name “Part-Time Scientists.” This is the only German team.

Explains Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi Board Member for Technical Development, “We are pleased to support the project with our know-how in lightweight technology, electronics and robotics.”

In addition, Audi’s Concept Design Studio is undertaking a redesign of the rover, reportedly to “ensure ideal lightweight construction conditions,” probably to make sure it looks cool. After all, it is going to be called the “Audi lunar quattro.”

The aluminum-intensive vehicle is solar powered. It has a maximum speed of 3.6 kmph (2.2 mph).

Takeoff is planned for 2017.