General Motors (GM) recently reported details about its SURUS, an impressive futuristic vehicle design concept. Details about the SURUS, which means Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure, could be the creative boost that the company needs to move its sales and customer profile in a new direction. The self-driving rover is truly unlike any vehicle the company has designed or manufactured.
A look at the artist rendering reveals a vehicle that is a cross between a flatbed truck and an off-road skateboard. The vehicle is also fuel-cell powered, adding to its unique design profile. Interestingly, the futuristic vehicle’s name is a nod to the past: it was the name given to the elephant that Hannibal used to travel across the Alps. This is also, of course, an unmistakable statement about the power of the SURUS.
Two impressive electric drive units (EDUs)
State-of-the-art propulsion power electronic systems
Second generation hydrogen fuel cell system to reduce size, cost and weight
An onboard hydrogen storage system that allows a range of more than 640 kilometers
Classic four-wheel steering
A rechargeable lithium-ion battery system
Advanced propulsion power electronics
Classic GM truck chassis components
GM has made it clear that it has plans for the SURUS that extend far beyond the commercial market, seeing is a vehicle that “aims to solve some of the toughest transportation challenges created by natural disasters, complex logistics environments and global conflicts.”
In its press release, the company said of the multiple applications it envisions for the vehicle:
“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.” The hydrotec technology is what should allow the SURUS to be adapted for a number of uses in the military.
The GM-produced Chevrolet Colorado ZH2, though a commercial vehicle, has been tested for use by the US Army for the past six months, another sign of the direction GM is going in. The results were promising, with the testing reporting most importantly a “reduced acoustic non-detection distance by 90 percent compared to current military vehicle in operation,” implying its potentially greater stealth abilities. The testing is schedules to continue through spring of next year: perhaps there will be an overlap with SURUS testing, but GM has not made this clear.
It seems that GM has a number of innovative projects in the works, and the SURUS, like the others, does not have a tentative release date. As well-known as the company is for being an industry leader in the global car manufacturing sector, it has an equally well-documented history of unrealized futuristic design projects.
For all its good intentions and clear visions for the future of its company it has articulated this year, GM will need to make strong efforts in upcoming years to make the difficult leap between prototype and reality.