ZWICKAU, Germany, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Audi is lending its engineering talents to a team of scientists in the Google Lunar XPrize competition. Together, the German auto makers and the "Part-Time Scientists" are optimizing a moon rover called the "Audi lunar quattro."
Audi engineers are helping the team outfit the rover with the company's patented technologies, including quattro all-wheel drive, lightweight construction, electric mobility and piloted driving.
"The concept of a privately financed mission to the moon is fascinating," Luca de Meo, a sales and marketing board member at Audi, said in a press release.
"And innovative ideas need supporters that promote them," De Meo added. "We want to send a signal with our involvement with the Part-Time Scientists and also motivate other partners to contribute their know-how."
While Audi has only just recently lent its support to the team, the Part-Time Scientists have been working on the rover since 2008 -- testing prototypes in the extreme terrain of the Alps. The team includes scientists and engineers from both Germany and Austria.
"With Audi we have acquired a strong partner that will bring us a big step forward with its technological and mobility capabilities," said Robert Bohme, founder and head of the Part-Time Scientists. "We look forward to future interaction and a fruitful partnership."
Google's Lunar XPrize competition promises $20 million to the first team whose rover first lands on the moon, travels 500 meters and then beams back high-definition images and video.
The Part-Time Scientists plan to launch their rover in 2017. Their are currently 16 other teams vying for the competition's main prize.