Hiding something as large as a tank on the battlefield can be quite a challenge, and gone are the days when you stick some branches here and there over the tank in a jungle setting – perhaps with the introduction of an infra-red invisibility cloaking device, tanks can remain “hidden” from radars as their infra-red signature are masked. Known as Adaptiv technology from BAE Systems, it will enable not only tanks but other vehicles employing similar tech to mimic the temperature of their surroundings.
Apart from that, it can also help the tank look like a different object altogether, such as a cow or a car (although it is far too large to resemble a man) when viewed through heat-sensitive ‘scopes. Researchers on the project are excited by the prospects, and hope to check out different ways to make it function with other wavelengths of light so that true invisibility can be achieved.
This particular brand of camouflage relies on hexagonal panels or pixels made of a material which is capable of changing temperature extremely quickly, and it takes around 1,000 pixel panels to cover a small tank (with each pixel panel measuring 14cm across). These panels will retrieve relevant information from on-board thermal cameras which in turn, constantly images the ambient temperature of the tank’s surroundings. Good to know the cameras function even when the tank is moving, but too bad there is no sound cloaking technology just yet as the tank isn’t exactly the quietest vehicle on the battlefield when it is on the move.
Mass production of Adaptiv technology is tipped to begin in a couple of years’ time. Guess the folks over at BAE Systems were inspired by the “Predator” series of movies.