General Motors has revealed a futuristic-looking hydrogen-powered self-driving army truck.
This concept vehicle is essentially a giant self-driving platform that can hold any kind of vehicle body — or even just cargo.
Something like this could be useful in disaster zones or in conflicts, the automaker said. That’s why the truck will be displayed at a meeting of the Association of the United States Army next week.
The Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure can be used with a cab attached to house a driver, or it can be used as simply platform to carry cargo on its own. A line of these trucks could, for instance, follow behind one with a human driver.
The truck is powered by hydrogen fuel cells that combine hydrogen gas with oxygen from the atmosphere to generate electricity. On-board tanks can store enough compressed hydrogen to drive 400 miles.
GM has been working on hydrogen fuel cell projects with the military for many years. Earlier this year, the U.S. military began testing a hydrogen-powered GM pickup called the ZH2. And last year, the Navy began testing a GM-produced hydrogen-powered unmanned submarine.
Hydrogen power is particularly well-suited for military use, according to GM, because fuel cells produce very little heat. That makes them harder for enemies to detect. Additionally, hydrogen can be produced in the field from a number of different sources, which means that fuel for the vehicles won’t always have to be transported to the vehicles.
GM designers have also experimented with the idea of interchangeable bodies in the past. Fifteen years ago, GM unveiled a hydrogen-powered concept car called the AUTOnomy, which had interchangeable bodies that rode on a flat platform.