January 20, 2016
It seems times are tough for Volkswagen Auto Group (VW AG). After their diesel disaster they are preemptively faltering for balance from the fiscal hit they are about to receive from various governmental organizations. One of the automakers under the VW AG umbrella, has resulted to fundraising by bounty hunting in space, and it only makes me more fond of them. Audi Quattro technology will be used to drive in space (on the moon). I can just picture members of the board at Audi AG (and Porsche AG for that matter): ≈we lead the VW AG in sales and growth, but we have to hand our excess cash over to Volkswagen, so they can develop platforms with green technology. They will then share those interchangeable platforms us, Porsche, and all the other low sellers. It is for the good of the group they said… eventually we will all profit.≈ ≈Well guess what, if you would have let us keep our money, and used your own money make a decent two litre turbo diesel injected (2.0 TDI) we would not all be reeling from your rug ripping mistake≈. ≈We do not even need your engineers, all of your good ones come to work for Porsche and Audi anyway. We have been making potent electrified powertrains (albethey pricey and impractical for a populous implementation) look at the all the Audi ‘tron’ variations and Porsche 918 miracle of modern engineering. From now on we make our own money.≈ So when Audi AG heard about a $30 million bounty for the first company: to launch a ship, land it on the moon and drive at least half a kilometer; via the Google Lunar XPrize; they pounced on it. They have teamed up with Berlin based PTS (Part-Time Scientists) to make the feat happen. PTS is doing most of the heavy lifting in terms of getting to and landing on the moon, but the rover itself is all Audi. When approached by the Part-Time Scientists, PTS had a smaller but clunkier all aluminum rover about the size of a cocker spaniel. At first, PTS may have only thought so far as wanting reliable all wheel drive (AWD) technology to take to the moon from the originators: Audi Quattro. PTS received much more than AWD drive expertise. The Automaker basically remade the whole rover; intrinsically improving it. The wheels, for example, were made larger while losing weight and becoming more dextrous. Now, each wheel has its own hub motor, and safely houses all the necessary wiring within the wheel. Audi 3D printed a special titanium, magnesium and aluminum alloys around all the hardware, wires and circuitry necessary for the rover to gather as much information as possible from the terrain. The use of the 3D printer made the rover larger, but most of it is hollow space, that allowed PTS to protect the inner workings of the rover within alloys that make the end product lighter. The VW AG affiliate, not only improved the weight and suspension of the space bound lunar rover with their 3D printer and Audi Quattro technology, but their ‘tron’ division plans to enhance the entire powertrain. Soon, the solar panel will be able to turn across a broader spectrum; to gather and send as much energy as is available, to better lithium-ion batteries and improved wheel hub motors. They are going so far as to stress test all the necessary components at the temperatures they would face on the moon.