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From outer space to in our bloodstream, we’re surrounded by products and ideas that grew from research and development by General Motors. As the R&D group celebrates a century developing everything from paint to pioneering solar-powered and self-driving vehicles, GM’s scientists are focused on what’s next.

“The auto industry is fueled by innovation,” GM Chief Technical Officer Matt Tsien said. “Having an R&D group charged with looking ahead has served us well. To be a leader, we have to continue to scout out ahead.”

GM’s AUTOnomy concept car previewed the skateboard chassis most modern electric vehicles use. (Photo: General Motors)

A century ago, that meant coming up with the first automotive lacquer paint process, an advance that slashed production time. Mid-20th century innovations included a mechanical heart pump that made open-heart surgery possible and centrifuges that made it possible to produce large quantities of vaccines. Today, R&D’s focus includes