Audi and the German team of engineers announced their partnership in early 2015. Their common objective: to unite the technical expertise of both partners in order to build a rover that will go to the moon under the auspices of the Google Lunar XPrize competition.
Since then, a group of 16 experts from Audi has supported The Part-Time Scientists team with expertise in a wide range of technical fields and optimized the rover for the lunar mission. Above all else, Audi has been able to contribute with its expertise on Quattro technology, its knowledge of lightweight construction, e-tron and design technology, helping the team from Berlin to develop the pilotless selenar vehicle.
Over the past few months, Audi experts have worked on the intelligent power distribution system of the rover by optimizing its high performance electronics and contributing to the development process with its expertise in the field of autonomous driving. To enhance stability and increase the contact surface, engineers and designers have increased the rover’s size and its wheels. However, the reduced weight of the vehicle, from 38 to 30 kg, was achieved using an optimized mix of materials and 3D printing technology mixed with aluminum. Sophisticated tests in the Audi solar simulation chamber were undertaken, to replicate the extreme conditions on the Moon and to check the rover’s matching components.
On the moon, the Audi lunar Quattro vehicle will be equipped with four video cameras to help orient itself in space. The vehicle will use these video cameras to inspect objects and to capture 360 degrees 3D images. A well-known motif will be the rover of the Apollo 17 mission, which is still in the Taurus-Littrow Valley.
ALINA, the landing module belonging to the scientists from The Part-Time Scientists will land on the Moon near the landing point from 1972, having on board two Audi lunar Quattro vehicles. The exploration ensemble will travel to the moon aboard a space launch system type Falcon 9 and has a total carrying capacity of 100 kg. So, in addition to the two rovers The Part-Time Scientists team will have the possibility to transport to the Moon the research equipment for other partners. In this context, project partners such as NASA, or the European Space Agency (ESA), and Wikipedia were included due to their ample scientific interest in the mission.
The Part-Time Scientists gathered in late 2008 at the initiative of IT expert Robert Böhme working in Berlin. Currently, it includes 35 engineers on three continents.
Google Lunar XPrize, a project worth over 30 million dollars, is a competition for space travel that appeals to engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world. To win, a private team must carry a rover to the moon, to cover a distance of at least 500 meters, and transmit high-resolution images back to Earth. Of the nearly 30 competitors initially, currently only five teams remained in the race that will allow one of them to turn up on the moon. The Part-Time Scientists is the only team from Germany.