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From disasters to freight, this driverless fuel cell platform has it covered

On Monday, General Motors gave us a quick look at a new fuel cell EV platform it's developing, called SURUS. It stands for Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure, and it's a large driverless vehicle—about the size of a shipping container—that GM thinks could work in a range of applications, including mobile and emergency power generation, cargo delivery, and even military use. We weren't allowed to take any photos of it, but on Friday GM made it public.

SURUS is powered by GM's latest hydrogen fuel cell system. The company has been working with Honda since 2013 on the technology, and it plans to commercialize it within the next five years, targeting commercial and military buyers. "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."

It's also a testbed for GM's autonomous driving program since there's no need for a crew cabin, just a flat load bed on top. As you'll see from some of the pictures, with a container on top it looks quite a lot like the driverless freight haulers we saw in Logan earlier this year, although at least one configuration does include a cab at the front.

Both axles are steerable, and each gets its own electric motor. Although the technical specifications released thus far are not comprehensive, GM says that SURUS will store enough H2for more than 400 miles (643km) of range. And the fuel cell will also work as a mobile generator, outputting high voltage AC, DC, or 120V AC in addition to sending power to the vehicle's lithium-ion batteries.

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