Audi and a German group of engineers known as “Part-Time Scientists” announced a partnership in early 2015 to bring together their technological expertise in getting a rover to travel about on the Moon by the end of 2017.
Audi was above all able to contribute its quattro experience, knowledge of lightweight construction, and expertise in e-tron technology and design in helping the Berlin team with the development of the unmanned lunar vehicle.
“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,” remarked 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.”
Over the past few months, Audi’s experts have been working on the rover’s intelligent all-wheel drive power distribution, optimizing 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. Meanwhile, they reduced its weight from 38 to 30 kilograms by adopting an optimum mix of materials and using aluminum 3D printing. Sophisticated tests, for instance in the Audi sun simulation chamber, were also run to simulate the extreme conditions on the Moon and examine the suitability of the rover’s components.
On the Moon, the Audi lunar quattro will have four cameras to help it find its way around. It will use them to examine objects and take 3D and 360-degree pictures.
Until takeoff, the Part-Time Scientists will need to conduct more extensive stress testing of the two Audi lunar quattro vehicles and the landing probe. To that end, the team will be simulating the entire mission in the Middle East over the next few months, and is now performing some final fine-tuning.