Preparing for launch

Audi lunar quattro prepares for its flight to the moon.

Audi prepares to take its next great step, which is quite literally out of this world. 

2 December, 2016

Audi’s latest model is fast nearing completion and it is a significant departure from more recent models to say the least. The Audi lunar quattro though has been developed with a very specific target in mind and that target is a good 385,000km away from Earth.

Working with the Part-Time Scientists, a German group of engineers, Audi has developed the vehicle specifically for a mission to the surface of the moon that will be ready for launch by the end of next year. The project came about as part of the Google Lunar XPRIZE – a space travel competition worth more than USD 30 million, aimed at engineers and entrepreneurs from all over the world. To win, a private team must get a rover on the moon, drive it at least 500 metres and send high-resolution pictures back to earth. 

The Part-Time Scientists are the only German entry, and of an original field of 39 who entered, they are one of just five remaining with the goal still in sight.

From the outset, Audi came onboard as a technology partner, a group of 16 Audi experts supporting the Part-Time Scientists with expertise in a large number of technical areas and helping develop the unmanned vehicle – the Audi lunar quattro – for the moon mission. Audi's vast experience with quattro, as well as knowledge of lightweight construction and expertise in e-tron and design have proved invaluable to the vehicle’s development ahead of its epic voyage.

Since the original lunar quattro was first developed, it has now shed weight, dropping eight kilograms to a svelte 30kg. Audi’s experts have also been working on the rover’s intelligent all-wheel drive power distribution, optimising its high-performance electronics and contributing their piloted driving expertise to the development process. In order to boost stability and increase the
contact surface, the engineers and designers enlarged the rover and its wheels.

“We are proud that we have given the moon rover important aspects of the four rings’ DNA: It is a quattro, has an e-tron battery on board, drives in piloted mode and offers an intelligent mix of materials,” says Michael Schöffmann, Head of Audi Transmission Development and Development Coordinator of the Audi lunar quattro. “The collaboration with the Part- Time scientists is also very enriching for us: We are breaking new technological ground with the Audi lunar quattro and can learn much about how automotive components behave in extreme conditions.”

The Audi lunar quattro will have four cameras to help it find its way around and take 3D and 360 degree images. Touching down close to the location of the 1972 Apollo 17 mission in the Valley of Taurus-Littrow, the Part-Time Scientists’ landing module will carry two lunar quitters as well as research equipment to enable other project partners such as NASA, the European Space Agency ESA and Wikipedia to also conduct research through the project.

With a planned launch date in late 2017, there is still much to do including extensive stress testing of components, the two Audi lunar quitters and the landing probe ALINA. In preparation, the team will now head to the Middle East to simulate the entire mission, before the final countdown begins.