British company Plextek Consulting wants to make drones impossible for their targets to spot. And rather than having to choose between camouflage patterns optimized for rocky desert terrain or for dense vegetation, they have developed electronic panels to cover a vehicle with adaptive camouflage that could display different patterns at the flick of a switch.
The eight-by-ten-inch panels are standard e-ink commercial displays. Although they are monochrome, filters provide shades of brown and green. Plextek first tested the idea on military vehicles in a project for the U.K. Defense Science and Technology Laboratory, or DSTL, in 2014. For camouflaging a military vehicle, the main challenge was fitting the panels around armor or other bolted-on external equipment. The potential cost of hundreds e-ink of panels might also be significant, too.
However, the Plextek team realized that the same technology would be ideal for small tactical drones. They are virtually silent, thanks to electric motors, but even with a wingspan of a few feet, they can be spotted. Adaptive camouflage would make them much less conspicuous. Plextek says its active camo is a good fit for small drones because the panels are lightweight and require no power. The small area to be covered means they should not add significantly to the cost of a drone.
Read the Remainder at Popular Mechanics