The collaboration between GM and US’ Armed Forces has now gone underwater, as the Navy wants to develop some sort of submersible fuel cell drone.
General Motors, the Office of Naval Research and the US Naval Research Laboratory have said they are working together to incorporate automotive hydrogen fuel cell systems into the next generation of Navy unmanned undersea vehicles, or UUVs. The Navy wants to focus on this type of technology due to the fact that fuel cells convert high-energy hydrogen efficiently into electricity, thus leading to the development of vehicles with up to 60 days of underwater autonomy. The Naval Research Laboratory recently concluded an evaluation of a prototype UUV equipped with a GM fuel cell at the heart of the vehicle powertrain, tests that were made in pools at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Carderock, Maryland.
“Our in-water experiments with an integrated prototype show that fuel cells can be game changers for autonomous underwater systems,” said Frank Herr, ONR’s department head for Ocean Battlespace Sensing. “Reliability, high energy, and cost effectiveness — all brought to us via GM’s partnering — are particularly important as Navy looks to use UUVs as force multipliers.”
The Detroit-based automaker has also teamed up with the US Army to work on hydrogen-powered vehicles. Both sides signed a contract in November 2015 according to which GM would build for the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center division a fuel cell reconnaissance vehicle, for testing purposes.