A real car remote controlled with an Arduino… what could go wrong?

[Gilad] tipped us about his latest project, where he adds plenty of pneumatics and electronics into his wife’s car to remote control it.

The brake/throttle pedals are actuated by pistons controlled by electronic valves, and a standard DC motor is in charge of turning the wheel. The Arduino code tells us that the valves will be opened as long as the remote up/down channel is above/under given values. The frame is based on Festo aluminium profiles and we’re not sure where the mains used for the DC/DC converters is coming from.  As the valves use 24V and the motor 12V, standard N-Mosfets and power relays are used for voltage conversion. The remote controller [Gilard] used is actually 20 years old, so the output signal of the receiver isn’t actually really clean.

We do hope to never see this car on the road….


  1. Brandon says:

    It would probably be a good idea to wire up some sort of fail-safe that would apply the brakes fully if the receiver loses a signal from the transmitter.

    That is assuming that he is crazy enough to actually control this car remotely.

    • Greenaum says:

      You’d need a big, big field, and a very small gas tank.

      Actually realistically, how would you stop it if it went out of control? I think a relay needs putting in somewhere, perhaps in series with the low-voltage side of the ignition coil. The problem is, in engines, most wires are high-current or high-voltage, and either will weld a relay shut.

      Maybe beef up a potato bazooka to take it out.

      • static says:

        Horn. and light relays have been handling high currents in automobiles for decades without the relays welding themselves shut. Generally the are single pole single throw devices, limit the use as simple fail safe without some creative thinking in some applications. Auto ignition circuits are both low voltage and low current, that a solid state solution could handle.

      • fartface says:

        It’s called a fail safe, and if he built it right he has a system that will apply the brakes and kill the engine if it loses signal or if any other issues happen.

        I’m a fan of explosives in it, It’s getting out of control, KABOOM!

      • andres says:

        most wires aren’t high current or high voltage at all! most of the wires are for small sensors and actuators. yeah you have the high voltage of the ignition coils and high current of a starter, but that’s just a couple of wires. anything under 30 amps is pretty trivial to control with relays reliably.

      • John U says:

        Most high-current stuff on cars is *CONTROLLED* by relays. Even the starter motor, at hundreds of amps, has a solenoid (and usually a fusible link these days).

        The average auto relay is rated at 30 or 40A, ones for large loads (heated screen etc.) are ~70A.

        There’s multiple ways to stop a car, but very few to reliably and safely STOP it. As long as the engine is turning, the alternator is generating electricity and can back-feed the ignition circuit. Cutting the battery feed can result in the alternator losing its reference for regulation, hitting 100v+ and toasting a lot of stuff.

        The suggestion above, killing the low-voltage side of the ignition coil (these days, coil pack) supply is reasonable, but you still need some fail-safe way of applying the brakes. I would want a large spring pulling the brakes ON that must be held OFF by the controller, preferably on some sort of watchdog.

        The inclusion of an ardunio does not fill me with hope for the competency or safety of this project, I suspect it would be ropey enough running a normal RC car (which may be a better test bed) or something marginally less lethal like a lawnmower (minus blades).

      • matt says:

        Open up the fuse box of your car, it is full of relays. And the fuel pump almost always has its own relay.

  2. Rich says:
  3. Hack Man says:

    Mythbusters have done this multiple times.

  4. Hack Man says:

    3 zipties to a wooden steering wheel adapter driven like a pulley doesn’t exactly scream robustness.

  5. ColdTurkey says:

    Do you think his wife knows?

  6. Anne Nonymous says:

    Another poorly conceived arudino project. No error correction, no safety consideration, nothing.

    This is why I don’t trust anything by software “engineers”.

  7. LK says:

    Saints Row The Third comes to my mind…

  8. mjrippe says:

    Wow, I expect to see this again on Wednesday – as a Hack A Day FAIL!

  9. soundman98 says:

    that is not something i would leave for an am/fm radio like that.. i’ve nearly lost ‘cheap’ r/c cars in a few hundred feet with such old tech..

  10. einball says:

    He obviously never heard of the CAN bus … that’d be so much easier .. and also controls the whole car!

  11. Nacho says:

    Next, on Hackaday’s fails…

  12. supershwa says:

    The ardumobile

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