One of the most important technological developments in recent times has definitely been in the field of Trucking. Many big truck and large vehicle manufacturing firms are putting billions of dollars into research to develop the next generation of technologically superior trucks that can improve performance standards and operational capabilities to a previously unprecedented level.
But the most innovative and commercially viable among these ideas has to be the Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure or SURUS unveiled by General Motors at the recently concluded event of Association of United States Army.
Held in Washington D.C, this event, had the SURU make its debut as a revolutionary truck platform that boasts of disruptive features like autonomous driving and platooning capabilities. Being run on a hydrogen fuel cell system, it is capable of giving a range of around 400 miles, but above all, the SURU can be adapted for military purposes, trumping all other truck categories with its superior advantages.
The SURU is capable of operating in both off-road and on-road environments with equal ease. On top of that, it gives off zero emissions and has a significantly reduced thermal signature. This allows it to operate in potentially hazardous situations by getting closer to targets without being detected until it’s too close.
On the other front, the lithium-ion battery system used in the SURU is powered by GM’s latest Hydrotec technology. The hydrogen fuel cell system helps generate a high wheel torque which provides the option of 4 wheel steering. The SURU also has a better suspension system, two highly advanced electric drive units and all of that coupled with GM’s traditional truck chassis and various other signature components.
Conventionally, the military deploys diesel-powered vehicles in the area it operates, but these trucks are far too noisy to have any real chance of getting closer to the target or the enemy without being detected.
But vehicles running on a hydrogen fuel system have a lower acoustic signature, and in the case of the SURU, GM claims that its acoustic signature has gone down to around 90% of conventional vehicles. This is a tantalizing proposition for the military as this single feature can allow the SURU to get as much as 10 times closer to the enemy without the fear of having its presence known or detected by enemy lines.
Lower acoustic signature along with SURU’s autonomous driving capability will allow its effectiveness in the military arena grow several manifolds. Humans will remain risk-free, while the SURU does the job in a much better way. The SURU can also come in handy in other kinds of hazardous situations like conflict zones and areas contaminated by nuclear fallout.
Don’t get surprised if you see the SURU or something like it in a Hollywood action or a sci-fi movie soon, as it has got all the features of the ultimate military machine.
In addition to all of this (if that was not enough already) the vehicle can double up as an alternate power generation source. These stupendously easier and quicker refueling capabilities and the ability to provide potable water is the consequence of having a hydrogen fuel cell system on board.
The US military had been testing a similar vehicle on its own, named the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2, which also runs on hydrogen fuel cell system and has almost the same features as the SURU but the latter gives a better range of 400 miles.
The military’s growing interest in this new hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system has not just been limited to the ground, but it also has been deployed out in the sea as a GM fuel cell-powered Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) is already being tested by the US Navy.
This interest is because of this system’s innate capabilities like low acoustic and thermal signature, zero emissions which are highly prized in the military arena. These promises are far more valued than what any other vehicle type guarantees in good measure.
But whether it’s the ZH2 or the SURU, they are all part of GM’s global zero emissions strategy, which aims to find out new ways through which global emissions can be reduced. GM plans on introducing vehicles that run on alternative fuel sources like the hydrogen fuel cell system.
Climate change has become one of the biggest threats to planet Earth and firms like GM and Tesla are trying to find disruptive ways to reduce or mitigate the impact of global carbon emissions and save our environment.
The debut of vehicles like the SURU is a great sign, because GM has plans to use it in a wide variety of fields like the commercial freight industry, as utility trucks and even as mobile, alternate power generation units. It offers a system which can be scaled to match all types of vehicles, especially larger trucks like the Class 8, but without compromising on the distance they can serve or the power they can generate in the engines.
On the other hand, Tesla’s electric semi-truck promises to just give a range of around 200-300 miles, which is significantly lower than what the SURU claims (i.e., 400 miles).
The Tesla semi-truck could be useful for small-scale urban operations like facilitating warehouse and port cargo operations, but its advantages end there, and that’s the reason why the industry has been so skeptical about it since it was announced.
The SURU will provide much more than that, and its hydrogen fuel cell system has been touted by many, to be the next big thing in the trucking industry.
This new, but disruptive technology, enabled by SURU, could help people like those living in conflict zones to get access to food, water, and even electricity in a much more comfortable way, without compromising the safety of the personnel working to make all this possible.
This is a Win-Win situation for everyone. As SURU reimagines the possibilities of solving the most complex global logistical challenges, it will be a step in the right direction for the world at large to get served by technology that actually makes their lives a whole lot better and easier to manage.