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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Reader Comments

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 William salem or

This is a one dimensional video. Changing the angle could potentially change the effectiveness of this technology. Bill

Wed, Sep 14, 2011

"Cloaking" in the infrared might be helpful at night. Not much use during the day. IED's? Are tanks that vulnerable to IED's? If so, they need to be re-designed. Attacking the "soft" belly of tanks was a tactic in the first world war. It should have been planned for and designed against. Autonomous explosive-sniffing robots should be locating IEDs for "hands-off" destruction to protect infantry. Better yet, better quality control so every shell explodes so there is no raw material for IEDs (except, of course, for captured munitions).

Tue, Sep 13, 2011

I bet it doesnt stop an IED. solve that problem,most resistance fighters arent flying or using infared equipment.

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