6 Awesome Unmanned Car Robot/UGV Applications Explained

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Unmanned cars, also known as robotic cars, are very popular types of ground robots used for a variety of applications.

In this article, we’ve tried to include only applications that would benefit from this configuration over any other type of UGV.

Here are 6 applications for unmanned cars:

  • Passenger transportation
  • Autonomous food deliver
  • Search & rescue
  • Military ISR
  • Unmanned car racing
  • Remote-controlled (RC) model car shows

Take note that unmanned cars include remote control (RC)/teleoperated, autonomous/self-driving, and artificially intelligent unmanned cars.

These types of unmanned vehicles fall under the broad category of unmanned motor vehicles. Unmanned motor vehicles are sub-types of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs).

How Can Unmanned Cars Be Used For Passenger Transportation?

This is probably one of the most popular and awaited applications for unmanned cars that are being experimented with and tested by various companies.

Check out our full post on what unmanned cars are where we dive further into how they work, their applications, parts/components, advantages/disadvantages, propulsion systems they use and examples:

Related Post: What Are Unmanned Cars? Drone/UGV Automobiles Explained

These types of unmanned cars are fully autonomous and equipped with machine learning programs (artificial intelligence) which is required in such an unstable and unpredictable environment.

Unmanned cars, also known in this case as driverless or self-driving cars, can be used for passenger transportation using various autopilot technologies enabling them to act as fully autonomous taxis to transport someone from one place to another without human input.

These typically include various sensors and programs that work together with other larger systems found in the vehicle to ensure a smooth and safe ride for the passenger.

Sensors and programs include camera, LIDAR, radar, and ultrasonic sensors with additional autopilot programs for fully autonomous capabilities.

Systems used in unmanned cars include the propulsion, braking, steering, and suspension system.

Most types of cars that are built for comfort would most likely be suited for this application such as some unmanned economy cars, luxury cars, and sports cars.

Check out our full post on the types of unmanned cars. For each type, we explain what it is, an advantage/disadvantage, and some examples of real robots of that type:

Related Post: Types Of Unmanned Car Drones/UGVs Explained (+Pictures)

Many companies are trying to create operational fully autonomous cars and have been spending several years in some cases not only building the vehicle but also testing it for a period of time on real roads.

These include Google’s self-driving cars now called Waymo One which operate in Phoenix, Arizona and BMW’s self-driving cars.

How Can Unmanned Cars Be Used For Autonomous Food Delivery?

Autonomous food delivery may seem as though it would be better suited for unmanned vans or trucks, however, this is not always the case.

In cities or other places with high traffic and maybe narrow roads, having a sleek and stable autonomous car that can travel efficiently while still carrying a substantial payload is essential to save time and money.

These autonomous cars will in most cases be fully autonomous incorporating artificial intelligence to operate or will require an operator either in the vehicle or standing by remotely to take over if necessary.

Check out our full post on the main parts/components of unmanned cars where for each part/component, we dive into what it is and how it works in further detail:

Related Post: Main Unmanned Car Robot/UGV Parts & Components Explained

Unmanned cars can be used for autonomous food delivery by being designed to carry large payloads while still being capable of efficiently and effectively driving to their destination even for extended periods of time.

Most of the same payloads that fully autonomous cars are going to require such as LIDAR, radar, and camera sensors will be required with the additional modified interior which will need to be customised in order to safely transport cargo.

Examples include DoorDash which has tested its autonomous car called Cruise in San Francisco for food delivery and Ford that’s using Fusion Hybrid autonomous test cars to deliver food in Miami, Florida.

How Can Unmanned Cars Be Used For Search & Rescue?

Search and rescue is a vast field where the stakes are very high in most cases. That can equally be the case for the rescuers tasked with finding and aiding the missing or injured individual/s.

Unmanned cars can be used for search and rescue operations by being sent out in rough terrain for extended periods of time to locate and possibly provide first aid equipment while the rescuers plan a strategy to rescue them.

Missions that are conducted on uneven surfaces would greatly benefit from an unmanned car that’s equipped with tracks. Unmanned SUVs could provide these hybrid on/off-road operations while being durable.

They could also potentially recover the individual and transport them to safety with modifications to the vehicle.

They would benefit from payloads such as electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors, radar, and potentially speakers and microphones enabling them to speak to the individual/s.

How Are Unmanned Cars Used For Military ISR?

Military ISR refers to all Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance operations that are conducted by the military.

Unmanned cars can be used for military ISR by being sent ahead, especially robotic cars of small scale, to gather intelligence enabling them to scout out potential threats for soldiers before they are exposed to them and helping them make a plan of action.

Unmanned sports utility vehicles (SUVs) are most likely going to be the best option for these sorts of operations as they are very durable and versatile.

They can be controlled either remotely or made semi to fully autonomous and can be built to various sizes depending on the needs of the mission.

LIDAR, radar, cameras, and GPS could all be useful payloads used with the vehicle.

Examples include The Spider Mite made by Inspector Bot and the MDAR (Mobile Detection, Assessment and Response System) made by General Dynamics which is a golf car/cart used to monitor and patrol the nuclear stockpiles in the United States autonomously.

How Are Unmanned Cars Used In Racing?

Car racing is a very popular and very old sport that is still going strong today. New technology has also now been implemented in vehicles and used for this sort of application.

Unmanned cars, both those remote-controlled (RC) and made semi/fully autonomous, are used in both on and off-road racing around set tracks against other similar cars.

Unmanned touring cars, dragsters, roadsters, rally cars, formula one cars, and go-karts are all used for these sorts of activities.

These sorts of competitions are more common with remote-controlled (RC) unmanned cars but have also now been created for fully-autonomous racing cars.

The primary source of power used by these types of unmanned cars can be electricity (batteries, fuel cells etc.), gas/petrol (engine), or nitro (engine) powered.

Check out our full post where we dive into several powerplants and propulsion devices used in drones. For each power source, we expand on how they work, the types, advantages/disadvantages, and examples of drones using it:

Related Post: How Are Drones Powered? 6 Drone Energy Sources Explained

Examples include the European Federation of Radio operated model Automobiles (EFRA) which holds many championship races of various scales specifically for RC cars and Roborace which is a competition for autonomous electrically powered unmanned cars.

How Are Unmanned Cars Used In Remote-Controlled (RC) Model Car Shows?

Model car shows are events organised by robotics enthusiasts where individuals can come and show off often custom-built vehicles that are either modelled off of manned vehicles or are completely unique.

These shows can include both aerial and ground drones but we will be focusing primarily on unmanned cars.

These vehicles are most often controlled by radio waves.

Unmanned cars are used in remote-controlled (RC) model car shows by being displayed and driven around a track to be admired by others.

Almost any type of unmanned RC car can be used in this sort of application. Typically, unmanned cars that have unique features or cars that have been replicated that have not yet been done are admired in these shows.

Serious drone enthusiasts replicating manned cars are often going to go the extra mile and customise every detail of the car, including the most minute details.

These shows are places where people in love with powered model vehicles can show off their hard work and meet each other.

Examples include the Wing & Wheels Model Spectacular which is based in the United Kingdom (UK) and the North West Model Hobby Expo.


Most unmanned cars can be used for almost any land-based application but can excel at those mentioned above.

We hope you’ve learned a little more about unmanned cars and their importance along with potential applications they can be used for in the near future.

If you’d like to learn more about these types of robots (specifically drones), we highly recommend you check out our full post where we explain what unmanned cars are and how they work.

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