Modelling and simulation together with well-defined development processes have become key approaches for creating high quality, reliable consumer products. This is particularly true for passenger cars and trucks. In parallel, the evolving area of mobile ground robotics has found a variety of useful applications over the past twenty years: helping users accomplish tasks in hospitals, warehouses, factories, and on the battlefield. While many of these robotic systems have proven highly valuable, many also lack the mobility, flexibility, reliability and/or robustness desired by the users. In this paper, the authors posit that these non-idealities are in part the result of underutilization of modelling and simulation and an appropriate processes to implement them. This underutilization is partially due to a historical lack of appropriate M&S tools. Recently, however, a new generation of real-time, highly visualized, interactive tools has emerged that has the potential to make a positive impact. In this paper, the authors argue the case for applying the virtual product development paradigm to the mobile robotics area and leveraging these new tools together with more conventional M&S to improve products and systems. An example of the newer class of tools (ANVEL) is discussed, and examples are given as to how it is being used to create complex designs and CONOPS decisions for manned and unmanned ground vehicle robotic systems. The challenges and open needs for the area are also described.