“Invisibility Cloak” makes tanks, ships, and even buildings disappear

Mike Schuler
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September 6, 2011

British defense contractor BAE Systems says it has successfully tested an “invisibility cloak” that allows a vehicle, ship or even a building, to completely blend in with its surroundings when viewed through typical infra-red surveillance technologies.

The “cloak”, more formally known as a patented technology called “Adaptiv“, uses sheets of hexagonal ‘pixels’ that change temperature rapidly to mimic an infra-red image.  When applied to a vehicle or ship, on-board cameras pick up background scenery and display that image through the heated pixels on the front, allowing even a moving tank to completely blend into its natural background as far as the IR spectrum is concerned.

Test trials held in mid-July using a CV90 armored vehicle showed that one side of the vehicle could be made completely invisible, or even be made to appear as other objects, when viewed through common IR detection devices.

“Earlier attempts at similar cloaking devices have hit problems because of cost, excessive power requirements or because they were insufficiently robust,” said Adaptiv project manager, Peder Sjölund.  “Our panels can be made so strong that they provide useful armor protection and consume relatively low levels of electricity, especially when the vehicle is at rest in ‘stealth recce’ mode and generator output is low.”

While current work focuses mainly on the infra-red spectrum, BAE Systems engineers have combined the pixels with other technologies that provide camouflage in other parts of the electro-magnetic spectrum, and plans on testing with these technologies over the next few years.

BAE Systems says it plans on displaying the technology at the UK Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition later this month.

Want to see Adaptiv in action?  Click here check out a video from BAE Systems 

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