Introducing Audi’s new moon robot — the Audi Lunar Quattro

audi lunar quattro screen shot 2016 01 17 at 12 03 22 pm
It was bound to happen one day — the highways an byways of planet Earth no longer prove a challenging enough terrain for automakers, so now, they’re headed to the moon. At last week’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, German automaker Audi debuted a brand new lunar rover that makes use of its famous Quattro all-wheel-drive system, appropriately named the Audi Lunar Quattro. And better yet, the little robot is 3D-printed, comprised of titanium and aluminium.

While Elon Musk has somewhat bridged the gap between space exploration and automobiles with his two companies, SpaceX and Tesla, it’s certainly interesting to see Audi using its own technology to send a robot of its own making to the moon. Well, not entirely of its own making. Audi has partnered with Berlin-based Part-Time Scientists to manufacture the lunar rover, and has already tested the robot “in rough terrain around the world.”

The entire project is part of the Google Lunar XPrize challenge, an initiative that first launched back in 2007 and comes with $30 million prize. The goal, according to the contest website, is to “incentivize space entrepreneurs to create a new era of affordable access to the Moon and beyond,” and has already seen huge innovations from companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin.

But don’t count Audi out of the running — in fact, the Audi Lunar Quattro, with its multiple cameras, solar panel, and prominent Audi logo, is one of 16 remaining contestants in the challenge. And better still, it’s slated for a 2017 liftoff, according to Viknesh Vijayenthiran of Motor Authority. Once it gets to the moon, the Quattro will be controlled entirely by a control center here on Earth, and will hope to move 500 meters along the lunar surface, sending photos back to our home planet all along the way.

It’s a lofty goal, especially considering that man hasn’t actually stepped foot on the moon in four decades. But with projects like those coming out of XPrize, that may soon change. “If you bring the right technology back to the Moon, you can pave the way for more exploration,” Robert Böhme, CEO of PT Scientists, told The Verge. “And not just exploration, but also to find a commercial benefit for future missions … There is value that you can take away from being on the surface of the Moon. It’s important to show what could be done.”

Emerging Tech

Will we ever fly supersonic again? Unraveling the concorde’s complex legacy

In a new book, Last Days of the Concorde, journalist and author Samme Chittum delves into the mindset that inspired engineers to design this marvel, the series of events that led to its fatal crash, and the possibility that commercial SSTs…
Cars

From salt flats to sand dunes, adventuring off-grid in Audi’s electric E-Tron

Digital Trends traveled to the Namibian desert to get an early taste of the all-electric 2019 Audi e-tron. We drove prototypes on a variety of terrains, including dunes and a salt pan.
Emerging Tech

Kill it before it lays eggs! Crazy 32-leg robot moves like a cyborg sea urchin

We’ve seen one-legged, two-legged, four-legged and even six-legged robots, but researchers from Japan have gone way, way further with their latest project: A 32-legged robot. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

Leafy greens are grown by machines at new, automated Silicon Valley farm

Farming hasn't changed too much for hundreds of years. Now a new startup called Iron Ox has opened its first automated hydroponics farm, producing a variety of leafy greens tended by machines.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: DIY smartphones and zip-on bike tires

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Gaming

As deaf gamers speak up, game studios are finally listening to those who can’t

Using social media, personal blogs and Twitch, a small group of deaf and hard-of-hearing players have been working to make their voices heard and improve accessibility in the gaming industry.
Emerging Tech

Boston Dynamics is trying to make fetch happen with its new working robot dog

Boston Dynamics wants to see Spot in the workplace, but not as part of take-your-dog-to-work days. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the technology company believes its extraordinary robo-dog is now ready to start work.
Emerging Tech

From flying for fun to pro filmmaking, these are the best drones you can buy

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

Get your head in the clouds with the best vaporizers for flower and concentrates

Why combust dead plant matter when you could vaporize the good stuff and leave the leaves behind? Here's a rundown of the best vaporizers money can buy, no matter what your style is.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best gear and gadgetry you can snag for $100 or less

A $100 bill can get you further than you might think -- so long as you know where to look. Check out our picks for the best tech under $100, whether you're in the market for headphones or a virtual-reality headset.
Emerging Tech

What the heck is machine learning, and why is it everywhere these days?

Machine learning has been responsible for some of the biggest advances in artificial intelligence over the past decade. But what exactly is it? Check out our handy beginner's guide.
Emerging Tech

Here are the best (and least likely to explode) hoverboards you can buy

With widespread reports of cheap, knock-off Chinese hoverboards exploding, these self-balancing scooters may be getting a rough reputation. They're not all bad, though. Ride in style with our picks for the best -- and safest -- hoverboards
Emerging Tech

With cameras that know dogs from Dodges, Honda is making intersections safer

Honda and the city of Marysville, Ohio are working on creating a smart intersection. The goal would not only help better direct the flow of traffic, it could also help save the lives of pedestrians and cyclists.
Emerging Tech

Regular paints and plastics will soon be able to ‘heal’ like skin

Imagine if paints, plastics, or other coatings could heal up like human skin in the event that they suffered damage. Thanks to researchers at Clemson University, such technology is almost here.