• GM SURUS Electric 4×4 Autonomous Semi Truck is Bringing Science Fiction Closer to Reality

    gm surus fuel cell electric 4x4 truck semi
    GM SURUS : Autonomous 4×4 Ambulance

    General Motors SURUS concept is a fuel-cell electric heavy truck that can operate in autonomous mode, tackle difficult terrain, and has up to 400 miles of driving range. GM releases images and specifications of the Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS) before its official debut at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) meeting [Oct 9-11th, 2017].

    The SURUS concept features two electric drive motors, four-wheel steering, lithium battery energy storage, GM’s Gen-2 hydrogen fuel-cell system, hydrogen storage system that offers up to 400 miles of range, GM’s medium duty truck components, and an advanced suspension system. GM did not offer any further details on suspension design, top operating speed, or vehicle weight and payload capability.

    General Motors has offered several rendering for various uses for the SURUS platform. Naturally, such a vehicle is very attractive for uses by the military. Some of the other uses include: freight transport (SURUS is conveniently sized to carry a standard cargo shipping container), all-terrain capable ambulance, snow plowing, construction/utility transport, delivery services, and mobile power generation. There is no reason that it could not be adapted to other uses such as personnel transport or refuse truck.

    GM is touting the autonomous capabilities of the SURUS, but we do not yet have confirmation on what environment(s) the SURUS can handle autonomously. Challenges of navigating a well mapped-out city, highway, or port are completely different from traversing a disaster zone off-road. There is no information on whether the SURUS can be operated via remote control.

    The SURUS uses hydrogen as input fuel and produces electricity and water as byproducts of the fuel-cell system. The SURUS concept also has a water bottle and water hose to demonstrate the water distribution options.

    Here is a first look at the Chevy Colorado ZH2 hydrogen fuel-cell truck that the U.S. is currently evaluating and testing.

    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.

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    62 thoughts on “GM SURUS Electric 4×4 Autonomous Semi Truck is Bringing Science Fiction Closer to Reality

      1. 1. Is possible the fuel cell is stacked on top of a layer of lithium batteries and separable. So this does not have to be a hydrogen truck. Could just be electric or combustion hybrid as a version.
        2. Looks like they blacked out the inner hub so we can’t see if it is a portal or something else. Certainly is independent though.
        3. We know it is exactly 20 feet long, since the shipping container on it is 20 feet long and goes end to end.
        4. We know they can put any top on this, a pickup, a van, a car or anything, because the drivetrain is all baked into the “surfboard”-like frame and battery and motors(just like GM’s electric vehicles they have shown in the past, and much like Teslas etc..
        5. A range extender Duramx diesel could easily be added to the top of this connected to a generator.
        6. As is, its power and chassis capability is comparable to a one ton pickup truck, so about 8 thousand pounds of payload (the shipping container is 4 thousand pounds just by itself).
        7. So, it has about 1000 lb.s of torque. Not that much more than a Tesla, but with better battery cooling for longer peak use(easy to do with that long 20 foot chassis).
        8. Easy to turn, comparable to a Jeep, since it has 4 wheel steering.
        9. Probably can tow up to 20,000 lbs, maybe more if they employ the new single wheel technology you see on the new Semi Tractors on the road these days. It has a channel hitch in the picture. Could have a fifth wheel easily.
        10. TFL is wrong to assume off-road autonomous driving is more difficult than off-road, because autonomous technology was perfected first off-road by Darpa and then the more difficult part was bringing it into the city. Journalists are not engineers or engineer historians obviously.
        11 We will find out the details in a few days.
        12. Third party companies can easily build any kind of body to put on this platform, so if you want a vehicle that actually works, you can have one. And if you are a psycho who just wants to LOOK tough or pretty or both, you can do that too.

        This is definitely the truck I want minus the hydrogen fuel cell (too expensive and problematic right now). Put the 6.7 Duramax minus the Allison in it, GM, and keep the electric motors and circuits for powering the tools!

        That is a real man’s truck, and not an illusion of a truck that all the automakers make now.

        1. Oh, look at the wheels.

          It is very possible the electric motors are in the hub and wheel assembly. Wow, that would make a heck of a reliable and extremely high performing vehicle. Torque vectoring and no need for brakes. And this leaves a boat load of room for the lithium batteries and hybrid power generators etc..

          I guess we’ll find out soon.

          1. 1. Fullly boxed frame.

            2. Definitely removable lithium ion packs or removable fuel cells(depends how they are skinning this cat). But definitely removable by just looking at it.
            3. Looks like “layers” of systems. Like Lithium ion on one layer and the fuel cells on the top layer just under th top rack. Would make sense that the heavier lithium would be those drawers that come out the side on the bottom.

          1. Ford just doesn’t have the brain power to make something like this.

            Its a Chevy, so it will
            shake and rattle,

            but at least it will keep

            1. “Acoustic tests show the vehicle can get 10 times closer to its target without being detected compared to current military vehicles.”

              Well then, drive that F.U.RUS. right up to behind Putin’s pool party.

    1. I am impressed. 400 miles is good enough. I wouldn’t mind to load my travel trailer on the top of that truck on the first picture from the series and go hunting for a week. Silent power and water. If someone would make small hydrogen producing station suitable for the house, or on the site, I would use my solar panels to make extra for this truck. I am not interested in batteries.

        1. But it’s an (potentially) exchangeable battery that could be swapped relatively quickly to not be stuck at a refilling station.

          1. Fuel cell is fuel cell and battery is battery.
            Fuel cell is more like a generator without any mechanically moving parts running on hydrogen instead on gasoline ,or any other fuel and not a battery.

            1. Daniel and Zviera – – –

              Actually, you’re both right.

              It’s all about electrons.

              A “battery” brings along its own “supply” of electrons, which get released when negative ions travel to the anode. When we “charge” a battery, we just make more negative ions.

              A “Fuel Cell” gets its electrons for the anode by catalytically stripping them off hydrogen molecules to yield H+, which reacts with O2 to make water. When we “charge” a “fuel cell”, we just supply more H2 molecules to dissociate catalytically.

              The practical difference is that a fuel cell can carry along a larger supply of “electron generating capability” (external H2 cylinders) than current battery capacity can, with its storage limitations.


            2. I know, what is it about Bernie.
              Battery doesn’t have supply of acid to produce electricity continuously, like fuel cell can.

      1. And yet another substantial evidence for the nay-sayers.

        They NAY so much in the face of reality they are going to develop a “long face”.

          1. Yeah, no problem. It is 20 feet long and probably quite wide, but fits in my garage no problem. I already have trucks that long and longer and almost that wide.
            It fits no problem, so you must have a small garage.

      2. Zviera
        400 miles would little more than warming the engine in many parts of Australia. As a inner city delivery vehicle it has possibilties

          1. Well it is not the middle of Australia. If I had that 400 mile range I would not have made it to where I wanted to go yesterday.
            Bit of a puzzle why an Off Road military vehicle has such a short range.

            1. I didn’t want to insult you ,or Australia. It’s nice you travel a lot, but honestly, I don’t think that many people go across Australia at all. Many keep it in the cities on the coast and 400 miles is enough and very wild and danger country for them already. 90% of Australia is inhabitable. I understand,that this setup won’t make it across Australia, but there are a different solutions for them already. But.With few fill up stations on the way, well plenty of sun, solar panels, actually very efficient way to get and store a “free” energy even for semitrucks ( very long ones of course).
              Actually, more I think of it, Australia is perfect country for this technology.

            2. Just imagine 20 platforms like this running hooked together across Australia by remote control driver on “free” hydrogen and 6 hydrogen stations, producing hydrogen by solar panels.

            3. @Zviera
              I know you originally came from the Czech Republic where few people would be doing long distances. You would be seriously wrong in your assumptions. I just had a Nurse who drove from Perth Western Australia to Melbourne. Due to the way the continent is shaped.that is like driving from New York to Honolulu. People drive vast distances here and it is not uncommon. You can drive vast distances going from Melbourne to Cairns on the ” inhabited ” side.
              As far as the Hybrid Automated vehicle train. I think it will eventually fail. Hybrid Military Vehicles are like the Flying one man saucer of the 1950’s or the Jet Pack ” a dead end”

            4. Yes ,you are right, I am originally from Czechoslovakia. We didn’t drive a lot under comunist party, but when they fail in 1989, we were driving like crazy all over the Europe to bring the cars, and goods. My home is in NA-Canada for almost 20 years, so we have a more distances you can drive, if you want to. 250 miles is max. I am willing to drive without a pit stop and without a gas. 400 miles is a lot and good enough for anyone, Australia is no exceptions.
              6 stations across Australia and you can make it no problem. You have to stop anyway, but maybe you are a superhuman.

            5. I disagree on automated long distance remote driving. They do that in mines for some time now. The thing is, that salary is ,what investors wants to save . They will outsource everything just to save a penny. Driving skills is no exception. We have enough source for “free” energy, problem is to store it and hydrogen looks better than batteries for few reasons.
              It’s least safe, than any other, but for semitrucks make more sense than batteries to me. Each system has it place on the earth. Beteries for forklift and cities, hydrogen for semi’s. I will stick with gasoline,or diesel. It works for me very well, no problems.

            6. You have one right there.

              Rio Tinto Group embarked on their Mine of the Future initiative in 2008. From a control center in Perth, Rio Tinto employees operate autonomous mining equipment in Australia’s remote but mineral rich Pilbara region. The autonomous mining vehicles reduce the footprint of the mining giant while improving productivity and vehicle utilization. As of June 2014, Rio Tinto’s autonomous mining fleet reached the milestone of 200 million tons hauled. Rio Tinto also operate a number of autonomous blast hole drill rigs.

          2. @Zviera
            400miles would not take you from Sydney too Melbourne.,I have driven that several times. What you can do in Canada 250miles seems very inadequate.,
            Well Rio Tinto runs Automated mining trucks, Komatsus in the mine pit 24/7, not as transport Trucks.
            Heavy Road Trains with powered trailers take the ore to the off loading terminals.
            You seem to have very little knowledge of what happens in Australia and what you knowledge you have is not very accurate.

            1. Yes, my knowledge about Australia is limited, like yours about Canada. Canada is larger than Australia,so I don’t know what your point is.
              Do you drive more than 400 miles without a pit stop? Wow. You are a superhuman.

            2. Zviera
              I have been to Canada. Bulk of the population lives near the US Border. In Australia bulk of the population is near the Coast. To get too any regional city requires pretty vast distances. Yes you stop but a one way trip to Melbourne is over 600 miles and thousands do that every day. So your 250 miles has me scratching my head. Canda after the Rockies is as flat as a pancake. You do not have to go vast distances to be in a populated centre. Area is greater not the distances

            3. First of all, I was talking how many miles I drive without a pit stop. Not a total. Second, Canada has greater distances than Australia, not just area. You better check the globus. Even rest of the country, not just Rockies has more hills than Australia.
              Do you make more than 400 miles without a pit stop? Just think twice ,what your answer will be.

            4. @Zvieria
              Canada is very similar to Australia in it’s flatness.
              You said people only drive 250 miles in Canada greater area distance or otherwise does not make sense to us. Everyone has one or more ” pitstops” usually after an hour of dtiving.

            5. That’s not what I said. I said ,”250 miles is max. I am willing to drive without a pit stop and without a gas.
              I was driving 1000 kms one trip many times,but with few pit stops. Australia is not even close to Canada with hills on flat portion of Canada.
              Canada is 1500kms longer than Australia.
              Now, I am waiting for your answer. Do you drive more than 400 miles without a pit stop , or you just like to play everyone else down.

            6. @Zviera
              You still do not get it, the shape of the Continent makes it very long.
              I never said ” without a pit stop” that is something you added. You said people only drive 250 miles, that is not true. Now you are saying ” I drove 1000kms with a few Pitstops” ?? You are not consistent in your answers.
              Of course you would need to stop on a long journey, the “stop and revive ” safety message here.

            7. You better read my post from October 7, 2017 at 8:53 am

              “Yes ,you are right, I am originally from Czechoslovakia. We didn’t drive a lot under comunist party, but when they fail in 1989, we were driving like crazy all over the Europe to bring the cars, and goods. My home is in NA-Canada for almost 20 years, so we have a more distances you can drive, if you want to. 250 miles is max. I am willing to drive without a pit stop and without a gas. 400 miles is a lot and good enough for anyone, Australia is no exceptions.
              6 stations across Australia and you can make it no problem. You have to stop anyway, but maybe you are a superhuman.”

              No I didn’t get it. I said,that I am willing to drive maximum 250 miles without a pit stop and gas.
              Do you drive more than 400 miles without a pit stop? I don’t think so.
              That comment about Australia shape making it larger and longer than Canada is a joke.
              Have a godd day.

            1. To find out what Robert ? A flat smmaller country ? You have been in Canada,but where exactly. From coast to coast ? From South to North ? Just in Toronto ?
              You still didn’t answer, if you drive more than 400 miles without a pit stop.
              I know the answer. No one does. Not even in Australia, so this hydrogen running concept with 400 miles range is good enough for Australia ,but if all of you Australians drive more than 400 miles non-stop, you have an issues,this concept is not going to address.

        1. 400 miles is not a limited range for military vehicals. During Iraq war one, that’s about the most they traveled in the entire 100 hour war. And even then they were out racing their supply vehicals.

          It’s common for military vehicals to leap frog. Wait on refueling while another group passes on.

          An m1 Abrams tank gets about .6 mpg. It carries about 300 gallons of fuel and needs to refuel about every 8 hours.

          400 mile range is fantastic for a military vehicle. You won’t get that in a power wagon or Raptor traveling combat terrain.

          1. Buddy,
            If you are fighting in LA maybe not. Elsewhere at least 600 miles or 1000k
            As this is being trialed as a supply vehicle, they will have to overcome lack of infastructure. As I mentioned this does not inspire me. I can see it dying a quiet death.

            1. It’s not meant to inspire the average public. You’re missing the point of it completely, but since you’re not the target market – that’s ok.

          2. @ Zviera
            I said you are advised here to stop ” revive and drive ” after an hour. You still do not make any sense 400miles or 400kilometres is useless in Australia, many many people drive a lot more.I said a lot earlier they have rest areas for people to ” revive and drive”. Nonone in their right mind would drive more than 4 hours without a break.

    2. Fuel cell is fuel cell and battery is battery.
      Fuel cell is more like a generator without any mechanically moving parts running on hydrogen instead on gasoline ,or any other fuel and not a battery.

      1. Buddy, I don’t think I will see it in my lifetime, but we will get there slowly maybe.
        I am reading about this nano miracle every day and nothing is happening for decades. Batteries excitement is going to die as soon as people need to recycle them, to install new one for $12,000 in the old looking electric car with worn out chassis, faded interior and rusty cabin.
        5 more years and we will see, how Tesla is doing with replacing batteries and what the damage really is.

        1. Yeah, TFL doesn’t know that it is off-road autonomy that has been nearly perfected a long time ago. It is on-road autonomy that is like bringing a bull into a china shop. I know, it is a little counter intuitive, but think about it for a while.
          I bet they don’t write a correction though. Those days of upright journalism are rarely found anymore.

          1. I don’t believe it is anywhere near perfected yet-but they do do it, yes. DARPA has been running a competition for a long time now. Teams are still working on the technology.

    3. Let’s all remember this is just a concept. There have been many outrageous concepts over the years, and most never came into being.

      The argument about Canada v Australia is mind numbing. Why argue? Both are great countries. I’d prefer Canada because I like cold and snow. In real life, it seems Australia has a lot of Toyota vehicles we can’t have here, while Canada tends to prefer American vehicles…perhaps because many are built there. Vehicles in AU need to be able to handle intense heat and desert conditions, at least those traveling inland. In CA, the vehicles need to be prepared for extreme cold and snowy conditions. Very different. Both conditions would pose challenges for this GM vehicle.

      1. Agreed. I’ve seen many “breakthroughs” and concepts over the years like this and the referenced articles and very few of them have panned out. Those that do have generally been mush less of a game changer that the originally excitement promised and took much longer to come to fruition than originally thought.
        Love to see research continue but I’ll not hold my breath for any of these things coming to market anytime soon. Any change we are going to see will be small and incremental.

    4. I like the modular nature of this platform.
      A smaller consumer version could have different snap-on bodies! Pickup one day, a camper the next-maybe transition over to a mini-van during the week.

    5. This my thoughts this thing has to get smaller for anybody to buy it. These manufacturers are pushing this green crap on us and I don’t think most people are really interested in it.

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