In Brief

Audi reveals Moon rover for 2017 mission

Lunar Quattro developed by Audi and German scientists could scoop $30 million prize

Audi has unveiled the Moon rover with which it hopes to win the Google Lunar XPrize competition.                                       

The contest, which is open to engineers and business enterprises across the world, has a prize pot of $30 million (£28.8 million).

To win, entrants must land their rover on the lunar surface, drive half a kilometre and transmit high-resolution pictures and videos back to Earth. The chosen site lies close to where Apollo 17 astronauts landed during Nasa's final manned mission to the Moon in 1972. Launch is scheduled for 2017.

At present, the Audi-backed entry, developed with a group of Berlin-based engineers known as the Part-Time Scientists, is competing against 15 other hopefuls from around the world.

Taking inspiration for its name from Audi's road cars, the Lunar Quattro is made from a combination of aluminium, titanium and magnesium components and weighs 77lbs.

It's powered by a swivelling solar panel which feeds a lithium ion battery. Theoretically, it has a top lunar speed of 2.2 mph and draws much of the drivetrain technology from the Quattro system.

It carries three cameras: two capture high-quality 3D images of the vehicle's surroundings while the third studies materials and can take panoramic shots of the lunar surface and outer space.

The Lunar Quattro is no doubt a serious piece of engineering, but Top Gear enthusiastically calls it "cute" and describes the rover "scampering around the show floor like an animatronic puppy" at the Detroit Motor Show, where it was revealed.

There's serious ambition behind the project, though. Speaking to The Verge, Part-Time Scientists' chief executive Robert Bohme said he hopes the competition and Audi's involvement will inspire new companies to embark on more lunar projects. "If you bring the right technology back to the Moon, you can pave the way for more exploration," he said. 

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