In space, no one can hear you scream. But they should be able to see your product placement and, in this particular sense, the Audi lunar quattro moon rover that will be appearing in the upcoming film “Alien: Covenant.”
Now, if you’re picturing the film’s star Michael Fassbender fleeing an acid-spewing xenomorph in an Audi A4, it’s considerably more subtle than that. The Audi lunar quattro is indeed a small rolling robot designed to explore our actual Moon, co-developed by Audi and German engineering startup Part-Time Scientists. Think the Mars Pathfinder rover, albeit with four wheels instead of six, a WALL-E-like camera “head” and the requisite light-up Audi badge in front. An oh-so-German finish of silver seals the deal, bringing to attention the fact that 85 percent of the little guy is constructed of aluminum — a material Audi utilizes in its cars.
But back to its use in “Alien: Covenant.” According to Audi, the lunar quattro will be assisting the crew of the space ship Covenant in exploring a remote planet for the purposes of establishing a colony. While there, and this is hardly a spoiler, the crew discovers “a threat beyond their imaginations.” Given that this is an “Alien” film, we can probably imagine what that could be. Really, given the, um, “issues” encountered by Sigourney and friends the first go-around, having a robotic helper like the lunar quattro around probably would’ve kept the body count lower. It certainly would’ve been more useful than that cat.
You can view the lunar quattro in action in this teaser video posted by Audi: Alien: Covenant x Audi lunar quattro.
The lunar quattro itself has been in development since 2015, when Audi began funding and providing engineering expertise to Part-Time Scientists. The moon rover weighs just 66 pounds, and its mostly aluminum body was produced by a 3-D metal printer by Audi at its headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany. Its electric motor (given the same e-tron name as Audi’s electric cars) is powered by a pivoting solar panel.
The goal of Part-Time Scientists is to launch a two-week Moon mission. Although it works with Germany’s DLR space agency, Part-Time Scientists operates independently of any government and is funded by private sources with the intention of making space exploration and research more affordable and accessible — particularly to academic institutions.
When that one small step for Audi will occur is still to be determined, but in the movies at least, the lunar quattro will be seeing action starting May 19 at a theater near you.