Under Development: Unmanned Vehicle for Dual Use Applications

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Car manufacturer is offering a technology that could help the military save lives. General Motors is developing commercial vehicle technology that could dramatically lower the casualty count from improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The leader-follower capability demonstrated by the company means a manned vehicle leads a dozen unmanned vehicles using GM’s self-driving vehicle technology. By removing soldiers from those dozen trailing vehicles, human safety rises dramatically.

The company’s electric vehicle and autonomous technology can have various military applications. Its subsidiary GM Defense is looking to use hydrogen fuel cells in unmanned submarines, create remote-controlled robots, and potentially a militarized version of the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt car, according to freep.com.

In late 2018, the company got its first opportunity. The U.S. Army sought bids for a prototype Infantry Squad Vehicle. It wanted an ultralight tactical vehicle, 5,000 pounds or less, that can be loaded under a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter or put in the back of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter and dropped into battle.

GM’s prototype is a modified version of GM’s Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 midsize pickup. In fact, it’s 70% off-the-shelf parts. The 2.8-liter diesel vehicle can carry up to nine soldiers. Five companies, including the new GM Defense, responded with proposals to create the ultralight tactical vehicle. As one of the finalists, GM Defense won $1 million and was asked to create two more prototypes that it is currently testing. It is expected to name a winner in March, GM Defense President David Albritton said. “If we win this program, the platform can be used for international sales to other military, other government agencies like Border Patrol, the Marine Corps, Air Force and Special Forces.” 

GM can sell only to allied forces of the United States, but the Infantry Squad Vehicle can have “different variations on this platform and that would be a totally different contract” with a new customer, Albritton said.