Unmanned Ground Vehicles

The unmanned ground vehicle program at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) was designed to participate in basic and applied research to advance the state of the art in unmanned ground vehicle performance, efficiency, safety, and cost for urban and extreme environments.

With more than 50 years of experience in the automotive industry, SwRI has the expertise and capabilities that benefit the unmanned ground vehicle industry.

Robustness and Reliability

Extensive experience in manned and unmanned weapons systems gives SwRI an edge when developing rugged, highly reliable, fault-tolerant control systems.

Real-Time Operating Systems (RTOS)

Unmanned Ground Vehicle

Unmanned Ground Vehicle

Related Brochure

image of Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) flyer

  • Vehicle management systems
  • Engine and vehicle structure health monitoring
  • Ground control stations
  • Hybrid vehicles
  • Traffic monitoring systems
  • Hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulation

Terrain Modeling for Convoy Operations

Recent internal research includes a simulation package to model sparsely manned convoys.

Model-Based Design

In compliance with SwRI's ISO 9001:2000 processes, SwRI uses model-based design techniques as part of its system design process. SwRI staff members create system models and controllers using the design tools and extensively test and evaluate their performance against the system requirements. The design tools produce software that eliminates the need for manual conversionand reduces development time.

Unmanned Ground Vehicle Capabilities

  • Positioning: GPS and inertial navigation system (INS)
  • Integration: Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and software
  • Intelligence: Layered control scheme
  • Perception: Obstacle detection and path acquisition
  • Communications: DSRC, JTRS, Software-Defined Radio (SDR)
  • Command and control: Smart user interface, drive-by-wire

Applications of Research

  • Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS)
  • Integrated Vehicle-Based Safety Systems (IVBSS)
  • Perimeter and border patrol
  • Automated inspection vehicles
  • Hazardous waste and explosive ordnance disposal
  • Emergency response vehicles
  • Autonomous and semi-autonomous convoy operations
  • Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I)

Software Languages

  • C/C++
  • Java®
  • Microsoft®.Net™
  • MATLAB®, Simulink®


  • Proving Ground: 1.16-mile track
  • Urban Environment Vehicle Test Bed
  • Test Platform: Drive-by-wire, real-time controller, quad rack-mounted computers
  • Two million square feet of office and laboratory space

Related Terminology

unmanned ground vehicle basic research  •  applied research  •  unmanned ground vehicle performance  • 
unmanned ground vehicle safety  •  urban environments  •  vehicle management systems  •  engine health monitoring  • 
vehicle structure health monitoring  •  ground control stations  •  hybrid vehicles  •  traffic monitoring systems  • 
hardware-in-the-loop simulation  •  manned weapons systems  •  unmanned weapons systems

Benefiting government, industry and the public through innovative science and technology
Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 9 technical divisions.