“The concept of a privately financed mission to the moon is fascinating,” says Luca de Meo, Audi Board Member for Sales and Marketing. “And innovative ideas need supporters that promote them. We want to send a signal with our involvement with the Part-Time Scientists and also motivate other partners to contribute their know-how.” Luca de Meo is presenting the partnership today at the international innovation forum Cannes Innovation Days.
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.”
The goal: a 500 meter drive on the lunar surface
The US$ 30 million plus Google Lunar XPRIZE is a competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, 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.
AUDI AG is incorporating its technological know-how into optimization of the rover of the Part-Time Scientists, the only German team competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE. Their prototype lunar vehicle has already been recognized during the course of the competition by a jury of aerospace experts with two Milestone Prizes.
As a cooperating partner, Audi is primarily supporting the team with its expertise in lightweight construction and electric mobility, with quattro permanent all-wheel drive and with piloted driving. Audi is also providing wide-ranging assistance in testing, trials and quality assurance. In addition, the Audi Concept Design Studio in Munich is revising the moon rover, which will be named the “Audi lunar quattro.”
The lunar vehicle with the Audi lunar quattro should launch into space by the end of 2017 on board a launching rocket and will travel more than 380,000 kilometers to the moon. The trip will take around five days. The target zone is north of the Moon’s equator, close to the 1972 landing site of the Apollo 17, NASA’s last manned mission to the moon.
The Audi lunar quattro: top speed 3.6 km/h
The Part-Time Scientists developed their lunar vehicle, which is largely made of aluminum, during various rounds of testing undertaken in locations such as the Austrian Alps and Tenerife. An adjustable solar panel captures sunlight, and its generated electricity is fed to a lithium-ion battery that powers the four wheel hub motors.
The theoretical maximum speed is 3.6 km/h– but more important on the rugged surface of the moon are the vehicle’s off-road capabilities and ability for safe orientation. A swiveling head at the front of the vehicle carries two stereoscopic cameras as well as a camera for scientific purposes.
“With Audi we have acquired a strong partner that will bring us a big step forward with its technological and mobility capabilities,” said Robert Böhme, founder and head of the Part-Time Scientists. “We look forward to future interaction and a fruitful partnership.”
The Part-Time Scientists team was initiated in late 2008 by Robert Böhme, who works as an IT consultant in Berlin. The majority of the roughly 35 current engineers on the team come from Germany and Austria. Experts from three continents support the team, including former leading NASA employee Jack Crenshaw from Florida. Supporters of the group, in addition to Audi, include numerous research institutions and high-tech companies including NVIDIA, Technical University of Berlin, the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
The Google Lunar XPRIZE, which started off with more than 25 teams, is currently in its final round. Participants in the competition, in addition to Part-Time Scientists, include 15 teams from around the world including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Hungary, Japan, Israel, Italy, Malaysia and the United States.
The equipment, data and prices specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.