Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system has conquered some tough terrain over the past few decades, but could it help a vehicle wearing the four rings go where few men have gone before? Audi is supporting the efforts of a German team called the Part-Time Scientists to win the Google Lunar X Prize. The $30 million prize requires a privately funded team to land a robot on the surface of the moon, drive at least 500 meters (1,640 feet), and transmit high-definition video and images back to Earth. Named the Audi Lunar Quattro, the rover uses a solar panel to collect electricity for a lithium-ion battery pack. An electric motor in each wheel gives the rover all-wheel drive traction. Top speed is estimated at 3.6 kph (2.2 mph); setting a lunar speed record clearly isn't part of the program. Audi and Part-Time Scientists have already made it to the final round of the Google Lunar X Prize, which saw the original field of 25 teams narrowed down to 15 from countries including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Hungary, Japan, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, and the United States. After decades of watching footage of the original NASA "moon buggy" bouncing around the lunar surface, it will be kind of strange to see a rover bearing the brand of an actual car company driving around up there. Welcome to the brave new world of privatized space.
Join the mission on: http://www.mission-to-the-moon.com
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