The “Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure” provides endless configurations

General Motors has thought outside the box on this one. Meet SURUS, a fully autonomous platform with 4WD and four-wheel steering powered by a fuel cell. Its name stands for “Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure,” and it’s GM’s latest joint project with the United States Army. Unlike diesel-powered trucks, the SURUS produces no noise, smell, or by-product besides purified water. It also isn’t confined to any one job. With a completely bare deck, GM can attach anything from a cab-over crew compartment or a shipping container. Thanks to its fully autonomous driving capability, it doesn’t need a driver and therefore doesn’t need a dedicated cab. This frees up the entire platform to accept an endless number of compatible up-fits.

“SURUS redefines fuel cell electric technology for both highway and off-road environments,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM Global Fuel Cell Business. “General Motors is committed to bringing new high-performance, zero-emission systems to solve complex challenges for a variety of customers.” GM is currently readying the SURUS for testing, both with the U.S. military and in commercial applications. SURUS is GM’s second vehicle study of fuel cell applications for the military in recent months. Back in April, the Army began evaluating a fuel cell-powered Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 concept pickup as a possible addition to its field operations. Fuel Cells have the distinct advantage of silent operation while being able to produce electricity for base camp operations with purified water as the only by-product.

Continue reading for more information.

Why It Matters

GM Developing Autonomous, Fuel Cell, Multi-Use Platform Called SURUS Technology
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General Motors’ SURUS platform offers boundless possibilities in terms of mobility and reconfigurability. Add to that the SURUS’ ability to drive and operate in a follow-the-leader style convoy all without a driver. The military could use the SURUS platform to deliver hospital units to disaster areas one day, National Guard troops the next day, and haul debris away the next day – all by simply changing what’s riding on top.

While this style of platform might not take off with the general public, private sector businesses could also employ the SURUS to handle a variety of jobs without having to purchase multiple vehicles. The possibilities are literally endless, all without changing the chassis or mechanical workings. How cool is that?


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Press release

General Motors aims to solve some of the toughest transportation challenges created by natural disasters, complex logistics environments and global conflicts. The company will display its Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS), a flexible fuel cell electric platform with autonomous capabilities, at the fall meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) from Oct. 9-11, 2017. The commercially designed platform could be adapted for military use.

SURUS leverages GM’s newest Hydrotec fuel cell system, autonomous capability and truck chassis components to deliver high-performance, zero-emission propulsion to minimize logistical burdens and reduce human exposure to harm. Benefits include quiet and odor-free operation, off-road mobility, field configuration, instantaneous high torque, exportable power generation, water generation and quick refueling times.

Fuel cell technology represents a key piece of General Motors’ zero emission strategy. It offers a solution that can scale to larger vehicles with large payload requirements and operate over longer distances. SURUS was designed to form a foundation for a family of commercial vehicle solutions that leverages a single propulsion system integrated into a common chassis. The SURUS platform is equally well-suited for adaptation to military environments where users can take advantage of flexible energy resources, field configurability and improved logistical characteristics.

GM is evaluating multiple applications for SURUS, such as:

Utility trucks
Mobile and emergency backup power generation
Flexible cargo delivery systems
Commercial freight
Light- and medium-duty trucks, improving upon the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 that has been evaluated by the U.S. military under guidance of the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and is undergoing testing on bases
Future military-specific configurations

SURUS will deliver highly mobile autonomous capability and agility in unpredictable terrain. Operating multiple vehicles in a leader-follower configuration could reduce manpower needed. For future potential military uses, the system’s inherent low heat signature and quiet operation offer benefits in environments to reduce detection and risks. TARDEC has been in discussions with GM evaluating the commercial SURUS concept as a next step of the broader collaboration to evaluate fuel cell technology for future military applications.

“SURUS redefines fuel cell electric technology for both highway and off-road environments,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM Global Fuel Cell Business. “General Motors is committed to bringing new high-performance, zero-emission systems to solve complex challenges for a variety of customers.”

The SURUS platform leverages GM’s vast experience in fuel cell technology, high-voltage batteries and electric drive systems, autonomous driving and vehicle manufacturing. The platform boasts:

Two advanced electric drive units
Four-wheel steering
Lithium-ion battery system
Gen 2 fuel cell system
Hydrogen storage system capable of more than 400 miles of range
Advanced propulsion power electronics
GM truck chassis components
An advanced, industry-leading suspension

Hydrotec Technology

The SURUS commercial platform draws on GM’s more than 50 years of research and development of fuel cell technology. The scalable and adaptable technology enables land, sea and air applications across commercial and military environments.

Since April 2017, the Army has been testing the commercial Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 on its U.S. bases to determine the viability of hydrogen-powered vehicles in military mission tactical environments. The vehicle has been operating in off-road conditions to evaluate its power generation, reduced odor, acoustic and thermal signatures, high wheel torque, extended operating range and the potential to use the byproduct water.

Military testing has shown the ZH2 reduced acoustic non-detection distance by 90 percent compared to current military vehicle in operation. This means the ZH2 can get 10 times closer before being detected. Leaders also observed the potential advantages for stationary power generation over diesel generators, including a significant reduction in idle noise and fuel use. Testing will continue through spring 2018.

Partnerships remain an important part of GM’s electrification strategy. Last year, the U.S. Navy unveiled a GM fuel cell-powered Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) for testing purposes that leverages GM fuel cell technology common with the Colorado ZH2.

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