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GM and the US Navy are building hydrogen fuel-cell underwater drones

No, you haven't woken up inside a Tom Clancy novel.

The RiverWalk and Wintergarden entrance to the GM Renaissance Center, along the Detroit River in Detroit, Michigan, USA, June 23, 2005. (General Motors/John F. Martin)
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While battery-electric cars are all the rage these days, it's unwise to count out hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles. Using compressed hydrogen gas to create electricity, certain automakers seem to be a bit more invested in this technology than others. GM's dabbled in fuel-cell technology in the past, but it's also using its know-how to build underwater drones with the US Navy.

"Our in-water experiments with an integrated prototype show that fuel cells can be game changers for autonomous underwater systems," said Frank Herr, a department head at the Office of Naval Research. "Reliability, high energy and cost effectiveness -- all brought to us via GM's partnering -- are particularly important as the Navy looks to use underwater unmanned vehicles (UUVs) as force multipliers."

No, this isn't something out of a Spike TV series, GM is actually working to put automotive fuel-cell technology inside military equipment. Not only is it better for the environment than petroleum, the hydrogen can be captured from renewable sources, making the whole shebang that much better for Mother Nature. Yes, the Navy cares about her, too.

Previously, GM's fuel-cell efforts took the form of Project Driveway, in which the automaker gave 119 fuel-cell-powered Chevrolet Equinox crossovers to drivers in order to get feedback on the everyday usability of hydrogen. The US Army is also partnering with GM to create and test a Chevrolet Colorado midsize pickup powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

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