General Motors has entered into a partnership with the United States Naval Research Laboratory to use automotive hydrogen fuel cell systems on the Navy’s future unmanned undersea vehicles, or UUVs.

Using hydrogen fuel cells will allow the Innovative Naval Prototype program for Large Displacement UUVs to achieve greater range and longer endurance compared to UUVs using batteries.

An evaluation was recently conducted by the Naval Research Laboratory on a UUV using a GM fuel cell powertrain 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. 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," said Frank Herr, Office of Naval Research department head for Ocean Battlespace Sensing.

GM’s fuel cells were chosen by the Navy due to the automaker’s compact and lightweight design along with its high reliability and performance.

“The collaboration with the Navy leveraged what we learned in amassing more than 3 million miles of real-world experience with our Project Driveway fuel cell program. Our customers will benefit from additional lessons we learn about the performance of fuel cells in non-automotive applications that will be useful in GM’s drive to offer fuel cells across consumer markets,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM Global Fuel Cell Activities.