Rather than simply trying to add evermore horsepower to its cars, Audi wants its vehicles to travel on a completely new surface. No, Audi isn’t going to build a rock-crawling off-roader or another video game car. It wants to build something that can travel on the moon. The car company announced recently that it hopes to put an unmanned rover on the moon’s surface by the end of 2017.

Audi is planning an entry in the Google Lunar XPrize. The competition is a modern version of the space race, in which entrants vie to be the first to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon’s surface, have it travel 500 meters, and transmit HD images and video back to earth. The winner will receive $30 million.

In keeping with the naming of its earthbound vehicles, Audi named its spacecraft “The Lunar Quattro” and has been testing a prototype for more than a year. Like all Quattros, the vehicle has all-wheel drive, and engineers worked to shave 18 pounds off the first iteration’s weight of 84 pounds.

Audi has partnered with the German team Part-Time Scientists in its effort, and the group signed an agreement to hitch a ride with Spaceflight, Inc. in late 2017, but no specific date was announced. Part-Time Scientists did reveal that it hopes to land the Lunar Quattro in the same place on the moon that the Apollo 17 touched down.


Justin Tejada is a writer and editor based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter at @just_tejada and Instagram at @justin_tejada.