What is a UGV?
There will always be jobs that people cannot do – perhaps because they are too dangerous, because they are based in inaccessible areas, or because it simply doesn’t make sense to use the manpower. For these jobs, UGVs – unmanned ground vehicles – offer the ideal solution. A UGV is the on-ground equivalent of a UAV, operating on the ground without a human operator. Although these vehicles are used increasingly across a wide variety of applications, the concept is, in fact, far from new: the Germans used a version of a UGV, the Goliath, to carry out remote demolition work back in 1942. However, it was in the 1960s that the Defense Projects Research Agency produced what may be considered the first forerunner of today’s UVGs: Shakey (as it was called) featured a computer, a TV camera and sensors that helped it undertake simple tasks, like picking up wooden blocks, without human input. Today’s UGVs typically feature a platform housing tracks, wheels or legs for locomotion, sensors and a power source, as well as a control system, a guidance interface, communication links and systems integration.
Types of UGV
UGVs may be operated remotely, or they may be entirely autonomous. Autonomous UGVs, as their name suggests, are able to regulate and act entirely without human interaction, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).