General Motors' Defense Division Up and Running, Hires Army Veteran as President

Last year, news broke that General Motors was getting back into the defense business. The automaker had a slick new military fuel-cell concept and was in the process of setting up GM Defense LLC in Washington, D.C.

It’s now one year later and the automaker has appointed retired Maj. Gen. John Charlton as the subsidiary’s new president. He will report to GM Defense CEO Charlie Freese, a 15-year GM veteran and fuel cell technology expert. The unit’s stated goal is to focus upon “helping GM better anticipate and react to the diverse needs of global aerospace and defense customers.” But it’s also bringing the automaker back into mil-spec work for the first time since 2003, when it sold everything it had to General Dynamics for a cool $1.1 billion.

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Pentagon Joins Tech Startups in Race for Autonomous Vehicles

It’s been a rough road for autonomous vehicles. Despite development progressing significantly over the last decade, tech companies and automakers have been confronted with a myriad of issues. There have been intellectual property lawsuits, public safety concerns, and a recent backlash from government officials who are starting to wonder if the entire concept has been oversold.

However, the government still wants self-driving cars, especially the Pentagon. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been researching autonomous cars since the technology was in its infancy and, with so many firms trying to bring the technology to market, the military sees no reason it shouldn’t be the first.

It’s not like it doesn’t have the money.

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Here is General Motors' New 'Truck' Intended for Governmental Use

Regardless of whether it’s brought upon us by climate change, divine intervention, or civil unrest, the end times are right around the corner — and the government is going to need a rugged and versatile vehicle for the impending apocalypse. The automaker with the chops to deliver such a platform? General Motors.

Apparently not Skunk Works levels of classified, GM publicly announced the Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS) on Friday morning. While not the classic image of a motorized vehicle, the design is intended to serve as the underlying architecture of governmental and commercial transports alike. While the specific government applications are a question mark, the platform’s fuel cell system allows it to run silently with a minimal heat signature — making it ideal for sneaking men and munitions behind enemy lines.

At least, that’s the theory.

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  • Dukeisduke I'll pick up my phone and look at a text or something else while at a red light, but when the light turns green, the phone gets put down.
  • Dukeisduke Haven't some cars been recalled multiple times (replacement airbags being recalled).
  • Azfelix These always looked exciting - like a life-sized Hot Wheels toy. Disclaimer: I prefer Matchbox and Majorette cars.
  • SilverHawk Last week I was run off the road by someone having a pleasant conversation through their infotainment system. They were all smiles as I beat a hasty retreat into the exit lane. They never saw me. This happens often, but there doesn't seem to be an answer to this problem. The need to communicate easily overrides any rules we make. With all our technology, driving is still as dangerous as ever.
  • MaintenanceCosts I will confess to having sent a few "OK" or "there in 3" response texts while stopped at a light or a driveway exit, but anything more time-consuming than that requires that I be parked out of traffic. I spend too much time as a pedestrian to feel OK about it. When you are a pedestrian, you notice that at least a third of the drivers are fully buried in their phones, and wouldn't see you even if you were dressed up in a fluorescent clown suit with a bright green nose. That's irritating all the time but especially when they turn right on red, through occupied crosswalks, without ever looking up.