Audi is supporting the German team in the Google Lunar Xprize competition with an Audi-designed and made lunar rover. The robotic rover utilizes the lightweighting and self-driving expertise of Audi’s team and is powered by a 30 square centimeter solar panel and a lithium-ion battery pack. The e-quattro rover can travel up to 500 meters per charge and almost indefinitely when on the lighted side of the moon receiving full sunlight on its panel.
The Lunar Xprize offers a $30 million reward from Google to the team that can develop low-cost methods for robotic space exploration. Privately-funded teams must successfully place their robot on the moon’s surface and explore at least 500 meters and transmit it back to earth in high-definition video.
Audi AG is supporting the German effort through the country’s only team competing for the prize. Calling themselves, jokingly, the Part-Time Scientists, the team have also been recognized for their efforts thus far and for the Audi rover’s unique design. Competing teams are from the United States (Astrobotics and Moon Express teams), the Hakuto team (Japan), and Team Indus (India).
The German team plans to launch in 2017 with their target landing area being in the north quarter above the moon’s equator, near where Apollo 17 landed in 1972. The team has been working towards their goal since 2008 when the Xprize began and is headed by Robert Bohme, an IT consultant in Berlin, and now comprises about 35 engineers from Germany and Austria with consultation from former NASA employee Jack Crenshaw.