GCN LAB IMPRESSIONS

A cloaking device for tanks? Sort of.

BAE Systems has been working on a technology that can make objects as large as tanks invisible to infared sensors. Yes, you read that correctly.

The company’s Adaptiv camouflage system uses hexagonal plates that BAE calls “pixels.” They are placed in a honeycomb configuration on all the available outside surfaces on the object or vehicle. Each pixel, which appears to be hand-sized, is individually heated and cooled, and when they work together, they can mask the heat signature of the object they are mounted on.

This allows a vehicle, such as a tank, to blend in with the background when viewed through infrared detection. Because the pixels are individually controlled, they could even be programmed to give off the heat signature of a smaller vehicle, or anything the operator wanted. BAE has posted a video of the technology in action on YouTube.

From a military/government technology reviewer standpoint, I can see that this has many elements that will make this work as a practical solution. For one, the pixels are made of sturdy metal, so they would actually provide more armor protection than some objects and vehicles might have innately.

Also, each pixel can be individually removed, making repair and replacement much less of a hassle. The only thing that might be a concern is the additional power that an array of the pixels would need. Fortunately, the military is looking into advances in auxiliary power sources.

From sci-fi geek perspective, this is just freaking awesome! Invisible tanks! Okay, yes, I know, they aren’t truly invisible, because for that they’d have to bend all light around the tank, and then how would they see? How did the Romulans do it, anyhow?

Still, a cloaking device that works in even a small section of the spectrum is pretty impressive.

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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