Tank camouflage has come a long way since the good old days of painting them green and slapping a white star on the side. British defense tech firm BAE Systems is developing an active "e-camouflage" system that will employ a form of electronic ink to project imagery of a vehicles surrounding terrain, rendering the vehicle somewhat invisible to potential attackers.
Using a set of electronic sensors attached to the tank's exterior, the system would process the vehicle's surroundings and recreate the colors, lines, and shapes common in its environment on the tank's hull, making it extremely difficult to see. Because the images on the tank's exterior would change as the surroundings change, ostensibly such an active camouflage system could cloak the vehicle even as it moves across an environment.
The system exists only on paper currently, but BAE scientists are confident they can make the technology work, with hopes of getting it to British troops serving in Afghanistan in coming years. In fact, the idea was born partially of a problem the troops in Helmand province are having disguising their hardware. All armored units there are painted for desert environs, making them unmistakable even at a distance when they roll into cultivated, green parts of the region.
If BAE scientists can make their active camo system work, it will likely be expensive. But it might just be worth the cost: a Challenger 2 tank, the main battle tank of the British armed services (also built by BAE) costs well more than $6 million. Moreover, the Ministry of Defense has undertaken an initiative to update the British tank fleet with far lighter, more fuel efficient, yet equally effective armored vehicles – doubtless another costly endeavor.
Aside from the obvious imperative of maintaining soldier safety, keeping their cost-intensive future tanks nimble and out of the sights of enemy anti-tank munitions could be a worthwhile investment.
'fes-up. that wasn't where the idea came from, it came from playing halo and thinking "wouldn't it be awesome it that were real"
Or it came from that one James Bond movie, where his car basically does the same thing... Just a thought. I'm all for them producing such tanks, maybe then we'll get some really large and cheap flat E-ink screens. Then i wont have to buy notebooks for school anymore.
This brings up new questions and ideas...
In desert or rural areas where there is the potential for dust, how do you disguise the dust being kicked up by the tank treads? Besides showing background images, could it generate something like a family with kids, a farmer plowing with an ox or instead of one tank close, three or four tanks in the distance?
If they know which direction the enemy is, this may just work. But I hope they don't try and put blue sky on the tank, because all a missile or drone will need to target is anything sky blue on the ground.
I'm betting that all they will achieve is to actively change between a few different camoflage colour settings.
Moving camoflage patterns to make a moving tank harder to spot is an interesting idea.
Will there be a different image from every angle? (instead of one image for one direction and being exploited from a different perspective, "millions" for every direction, so every perspective disappears)
How do you hide the treads put on the soil?
How do bullet holes effect the system?
What happens when E-ink is hit with an EMP; will EMP disable the active camouflage?
Do the scientist have any answers?
@Vex8 the way it sounds, when people are within a few feet of it then they can see that the tank is there.
This came from observing Octopus changing colors. We've been studying Octopus for a while now.
Here's a video of how it works in nature:
Sounds great.... but what about the tank's heat signature and all the noise it makes? They're not exactly cold, nor quiet. All the enemy would need is a thermal camera/scope to spot one of these "invisible" tanks. Although I do admit, it would be pretty cool to be hidden in plain sight in one of these, granted the enemy doesn't have any special equipment.
I was excited until I read: The system exists only on paper currently.
wow!!! so does the warp drive, teleportor, space elevator, and death star.
even on paper this isnt that exciting BECAUSE other people are already building prototypes of camo material.
Didn't this already happen? The British made a tank disappear in the distance in front of a press conference.
I think the real question is, "Why are we still using tanks?"
Compared to UAVs, unmanned artillary should be about as complex as an abbacus.
It will be a great day when due to military automation the nearest an American (or British, or any other ally) soldier has to get to combat is Nevada.
Nothing could possibly demoralize an enemy more than facing the risk or death fighting a war in which you have no hope of every causing harm to the enemy's people.
I can see it now "Hey guys anybody remember where we parked the tank?"
The advance of detection technology is years ahead and faster than the technology for camouflage.
By the time this system works, there will be plenty of ways to detect it.
The future is in robots and machines.
Didn't we have a spread here or in PopMech about a cube house on the beach in Cali that was near to invisible if you were looking out to sea? Image projection on glass walls if I remember right. I don't remember exactly when, but it seems like at least 2 or 3 years back. Sorry, I don't remember which magazine either, because I often have both subscriptions running at the same time, and sometimes stories are shared in both. Mebbe I go see.
Ok, well I can't find it. I'm really not crazy, Dr., I SWEAR I saw it, just as plainly as that invisible tank right there! Look! It just moved! C'mon, ya gotta believe me, I'm not makin this stuff up! It was a cube house, on the beach, and it wasn't even all the way invisible yet, either. If you'd just call Bonnier Corp; I'm SURE someone can EASILY be found to straighten this whole thing out....NO! NO! Not the needle again; I won't say it no more, I won't! Really I won't!
Ha-ha u always make me laugh. :)
haha thankx thats my goal be funny and somtimes sound inteligent
I did the same thing to my car, all i did was glue my 150 inch LCD tv to the side and put a camera on the other side to transmite what it looks like on the other side on my car. lol just jokeing.
lol.. hipnotize the enemy with trippy optical illusions...hipno-tank- "all obey the hipno-tank" lol