New camouflage technology developed by British defense company BAE Systems will allow tanks and other vehicles to be invisible to infra-red technology.
BAE will be showing off the new tech, named ADAPTIV, at the UK Defense and Security Equipment International exhibition next week. ADAPTIV lets tanks, ships and even fixed installations blend in with the environment, mimicking the infra-red signature of objects such as cars and even livestock (yes, cows).
The speed of temperature change allows ADAPTIV to work even while a vehicle is moving. The tech can be boiled down to two components: pixels and cameras. The adaptability of the product comes from 1,000 lightweight hand -sized hexagonal panels or pixels which are individually heated and cooled by semiconduting technology. Powered by the vehicle’s systems, the pixels consume a relatively small amount of electricity, and being metal they even add to the armor of the vehicle.
On-board thermal cameras project real-time data to the pixels from the tank’s surrounding environment and the pixels then display the tank as the surrounding scenery. Trials show that the tech is most effective at a range of 400 meters. BAE has also come up with a heat image library, such as big rocks and jeeps, which can be displayed on the panels.
“Earlier attempts at similar cloaking devices have hit problems because of cost, excessive power requirements or because they were insufficiently robust,” said Peder Sjolund, project manager at BAE Systems. “ We can resize the pixels for different ranges. A warship or building, for instance, might not need close-up stealth, so could be fitted with larger panels.”
BAE believes that ADAPTIV could be out in the real world within two years and this is only the beginning as their researchers are hard at work exploring other wavelengths and combining tech to produce real invisibility.