The Army thinks fuel cells might be perfect for scouting the battlefield because it's so quiet.
The United States Army wants to know how hydrogen fuel cells perform on the battlefield, and General Motors is working with the military on this rugged-looking, custom Chevrolet Colorado. Dubbed the ZH2, this midsize pickup ditches the usual internal combustion engine in favour of a removable fuel cell. Testing begins next year.
GM worked with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Centre to develop the ZH2 in less than a year. The mean machine looks ready for a fight, too. It uses a stretched version of the Colorado platform. An upgraded suspension makes rock crawling easier, and the 37-inch tires should climb through anything.
The most interesting part for military use might be the Exportable Power Take-Off. Soldiers could drive the truck into the wilderness and then remove fuel cell for a supply of electricity where it usually isn't available.
GM will work on calibrating the vehicle at the Milford Proving Grounds until early 2017. Afterward, the truck’s work will really begin because the automaker will hand the Colorado ZH2 over to the Army for field testing. “Over the next year, we expect to learn from the Army the limits of what a fuel cell propulsion system can do when really put to the test,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM Global Fuel Cell Activities.
The Army wants to evaluate how the traditional advantages of a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) apply in combat. Specifically, these powertrains don’t make as much noise as an internal combustion engine, which might make them perfect for a scouting role. They also produce less heat and that could make an FCEV more stealthy on the battlefield. The electric motors are also great for crawling through rocky terrain because of their high torque with immediate availability. Finally, the vehicle could retain the water vapor emissions, and soldiers might be able to use the liquid in the field.
GM is also working with the U.S Navy on a fuel-cell powered underwater drone (above).The goal is to eventually create one that can last for over 60 days at sea without needing a recharge. According to the automaker, the vehicle is currently testing in a pool and would eventually go into the ocean.
Source: General Motors