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Land Platforms

AUSA 2017: GM unveils modular, optionally manned, hydrogen-powered SURUS vehicle

09 October 2017

General Motors (GM) has unveiled its Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS) vehicle, a hydrogen fuel cell-powered platform that can accommodate a variety of modules and serve in manned or unmanned roles.

GM's SURUS is a modular vehicle platform powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. (IHS Markit/Patrick Allen)GM's SURUS is a modular vehicle platform powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. (IHS Markit/Patrick Allen)

The 17 ft long SURUS, named in part after Hannibal’s war elephant, has no specific front or back end but rather is intended to be a chassis and propulsion system with many potential uses.

“If you’re the user and you buy this, you don’t have to determine how you’re going to use it on day one,” Charlie Freese, executive director of GM’s Global Fuel Cell Business, told Jane’s ahead of the annual Association of the US Army (AUSA) conference.

Eight SURUS platforms can be transported on a Boeing C-17 Globemaster aircraft, he said.

It has two motors that independently drive two axels, and electric four-wheel drive and steering. The hydrogen fuel cell that powers the vehicle is based on fuel cell technology that GM is now demonstrating for the US Army in the company’s ZH2 truck.

The fuel cell technology is advancing rapidly, however, and Freese said the SURUS fuel cell is two generations newer than the ZH2’s – it is less than half the size and mass, but uses the same type of fuel.

A SURUS platform uses a Hydrotec Fuel Cell with water recovery system, can be refueled in three minutes, export 50-80 kW power, rides on a dynamic suspension, and has a flexible utility cargo deck, according to Freese.

The deck can mount anything from a diver cab, ambulance module, cargo handling equipment, mobile power generation systems, weapons modules, directed energy systems, surveillance gear, or whatever the uses can fit on the platform, Freese said.

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