It seems Audi isn’t content with simply tackling tough terrains on Earth.
The car manufacturer has now set its sights on the moon, and says it plans to include its Quattro all-wheel-drive system in a new lunar rover.
The rover is being build alongside a German group of engineers, known as the Part-Time Scientists, as part of the Google Lunar XPrize contest.
The competition offers a $30 million prize to ‘incentivise space entrepreneurs to create a new era of affordable access to the moon and beyond.’
To win, a privately-funded team has to place a robot on the moon’s surface, explore at least 500 metres and transmit high-definition video and images back to Earth.
Audi plans to launch its four-wheel-drive ‘Lunar Quattro’ in 2017 to the landing site of Apollo 17, the last manned mission to make it to the moon.
It will travel more than 236,100 miles (380,000 km) to the moon in a trip that will take around five days.
The luxury car manufacturer says it will be able to provide experience with lightweight materials, electric mobility and piloted driving, ahead of the rover’s launch.
The rover is powered by an adjustable solar panel captures sunlight and directs it to a lithium-ion battery.
It feeds four electric wheel hub motors. A head at the front of the vehicle carries two stereoscopic cameras as well as a scientific camera that examines materials.
The theoretical maximum speed is 2.2mph (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.
‘Double wishbone suspensions are used at all four of the wheels that can each be rotated over 360 degrees,’ Audi says.
‘Four wheel hub motors power the drive system – their interplay makes the rover an e-quattro.’
It carries two stereoscopic cameras at the front and a scientific camera to study the lunar surface.
Overall it has a total weight of 77lbs (35kg) and s built from high-strength aluminium, with other parts made from magnesium.
‘We come from the Bauhaus tradition of functional forms and technical precision,’ said Audi design engineer Jorge Diez.
‘We have core values that people can see in each of our designs, regardless of whether it is an airplane or a piece of furniture.
‘This essence will also be visible in the rover, but it will be interpreted in a very unique way.’
The Google Lunar XPrize, which started off with more than 25 teams, is currently in its final round, and a decision on funding is due to be made in 2016.