New Stealth Tech Lets Tanks Blend Into the Infrared Background

By Veronique Greenwood | September 7, 2011 1:18 pm

Giant pixels pasted onto tanks can now sense the general pattern of infrared energy, or heat, distributed around a bucolic mountain meadow or windy desert and camouflage the vehicle accordingly, so heat-spying eyes will be none the wiser.

Such adaptive cloaking has been on the wishlist of world governments for decades, but most attempts so far have been limited by cost and technical problems, like not being able to change the cloak fast enough to be convincing on a moving vehicle or failing to stand up to enemy fire. There aren’t a lot of details available about this implementation, called Adaptiv and developed by BAE Systems in part for the Swedish government, but a press release from the company says that not only can the pixels adapt quickly, they use relatively little energy and can serve as armor as well. Tests in July showed that the tiles could make a tank go invisible entirely or impersonate a 4×4 vehicle, at least from an infrared scanner’s point of view, and the company’s engineers are looking into using the pixels to cloak vehicles in other areas of the electromagnetic spectrum, like the visible-light bit, as well. Check out the above video for some chilling footage of the system in action.

[Update: Though it should be clear once the video begins, this is a promotional piece from BAE—we don’t know under what conditions it was filmed, whether it was digitally enhanced, and so on. So take it with a grain of salt.]

[via Wired]

  • Bluedahlia

    Wow, our tax dollars at work. Gotta love the slick advertising and neat-o toys that keep the Military Industrial Conplex the world leader (1000 x over) it is today! Shiny! Sexy!

  • John Lerch

    It looks to me like they’re invisible only from certain directions.

  • dave chamberlin

    We absolutely must spend billions defending ourselves against oposing super powers that no longer exist. No sense in blowing our money on silly things like education or deteriorating infrastucture.

  • Iain

    The entire video is a computer simulation, therefore meaningless.
    Sort of like computer climate models.

  • Alex Lunix

    Did any of you actually read the article?

  • MT-LA

    @Blue: By your “1000 x over” qualification, I assume that you think that the USA had some part in this. It didn’t. BAE is British, and then there is the whole “Swedish government” part.

    @Dave: Though you have a point (a snarky one), you are failing to acknowledge that military spending often filters down to commercial products. I’m not saying that we should be open to all military spending simply because it might filter down. But I am saying that research is the first step to realizing IF something may be useful.

    @Iain: Your entire comment is on my computer screen, therefore meaningless. Sort of like you.

  • Bill Heughan

    Interesting. Next up is a human portable version.

  • jennska

    where did this take place?

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