This is a great idea, and intuitively it should have occurred to somebody some time ago. I do see a serious source of trouble in one area, where it mentions the wireless control of the system. It would not take very much for an enemy to "listen a bit" and understand the control commands and then use their ECM capabilities to switch the system to serve as a target marker instead of a very clever cloaking system. So an independant wired control package would be much more secure and reliable.
It is interesting to note that a very similar approach has been used to thwart detection by building security system IR motion detector systems.
Seems like there a numerous use cases where technology like this can really make a difference. William raises some notable concerns, however, over what's stopping enemy communications systems from tapping into the signals and making the camoflauged vehicle a target. No doubt, subsequent designs will address that issue.
I agree it is a good idea, but I certainly hope this is to enhance Up-Armored vehicles and not replace Armor. With most attacks being from small arms such as AK-47's and IED's, which don't use thermal imaging, this would certainly not provide soldier protection in most attacks. If you are being targeted by a tank, helicopter or something that used thermal sights, it would be a good camouflage. But don't confuse camouflage and detection with concealment and protection.
There is no technology needed to avoid detection by building motion detectors. Just move real slow and you can move through a room full of motion detectors without being detected...
I used to have IR detectors downstairs and around a previous house and experimented quite a bit with the sensitivity level to avoid detecting pets and other critters scurrying around, but found that they are easily fooled when you reduce your normal speed of movement, since usually their detection is based on the amount of change per time per segment they monitor. So a slow-moving big object does produce the same levels as a quick moving smaller object. In other words, either have the false negatives of smart slow-moving tresspassing humans, or have the false positives of every cat or other animal moving around. Not a sleep-enhancing trade-off...
Although I'm sure this is always a consideration in a design like this one, it's the first time I've ever seen mention of "avoiding friendly fire." It stands to reason that if a vehicle is hard to see and identify, it must be equally hard to identify for friendly troops.
In an odd peacetime application do you think you could use your armoured car to program your VCR from like a kilometer away. Frank.. did you set the recorder for days of our lives.. no hon I forgot but don't worry. I can see our house from here. I'll just use the armoured Winnebago..
or.. Somewhere in Afghanistan:
The new armoured trucks have arrived.. How do you know are you like psychic man...? No. The TV's gone crazy...
on a serious note I can think of many tactical applications for this technology from using sheets of these panels to pretend to be aircraft or other military hardware in a place while the real assets are moved off. This could seriously improve the tactical advantage of "the cover of darkness" since FLIR devices have become so prolific. Maybe airforce or carrier aprons' could be coated in panels to change the appearence or the number of aircraft. The mind boggles at the possible applications.
Hide the plume, perhaps it can be cooled, and perhaps spread on the ground on the far side of any enemy radar...
Better hide, or transform, the vehicle sounds while you are at it...
Mimicking the back ground is needed otherwise as the "box" moves along a distortion area will be detected...I am referring to the fact that an outline can be seen, and that the space outlined does not look like the back drop....
How vast can it change images... if one is going to mimic the background, the system must be fast enough to display the background in a realistic way.
Somewhat off topic: One could conceivably make an image of small cars going faster or slower that the cloaked vehicle... but it would be difficult to deal really well with the edges vehicle's silhouette...
Many stories during the war of tricks like parking dummy tanks and planes to trick the enemy into thinking your forces were either stronger or somewhere that you wanted them to think you were. Cheap vehicles carrying this system could fool your enemies into thinking you were somewhere where you are not!
I agree with Greg. It's amazing what we can afford when it's for the sake of "defense." Apparently we have made the decision as a society that having the ability to project overwhelming military force to any point in the globe is more important than just about anything else, despite the fact that our biggest enemies are armed with things like box cutters. We don't want our government to be too big, but we apparently want it to be armed to the teeth, and, while we aren't willing to pay any more taxes, we are apparently willing to pay any price (in money borrowed from the Chinese, of course) to achieve this.
Maybe I am just jealous, since I work in an industry where we have to sell products to consumers who don't have near-infinite sums of money at their disposal.
Politics aside, I'd be interested to see some power consumption numbers. It's easy to say that the power consumption isn't so bad once the system is running, but what do the numbers say? I don't see how an active system like this can fail to devour energy.
This seems like a lot of trouble to go to in order to camoflage the vehicle in the IR spectrum, when there are still plenty of obvious, low-tech ways to detect it (it's still visible, and it still makes noise). And this wouldn't protect a vehicle from IEDs, which seem to be one of the biggest real-world threats.
I predict that this will allow BAE to impress enough Department of Defense officials to guarantee that the government will continue to direct massive sums of money towards them, but I doubt it will actually protect anyone who is in harm's way.
Also, for an article with the word "material" in the title, there was very little detail about the actual materials used.
Since about 5% of our church's members are currently in harms way this technology certainly improves the quality of life around me. We have a little different view of the cause of war and disease.
Having just finished the book "Unbroken", I can definitely see where the quality of life in this country and in Japan was immeasurably improved by the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (high tech war). Reading a first hand account of what was going on in Japan before the Emperor decided to make peace was a real eye opener.
So this technology is no waste of resources and has immediate payback.
Greg, I can promise you that being harder to see and target provides a MAJOR IMPROVEMENT in the quality of life for those in a combat zone. Being invisible would be better but that has hazards as well.
WE could have a lot of stem cell treatments today if various groups were not so opposed to it. The worst is that the opposition is for financial and political reasons, although many will refuse to admit that.
I am glad there are other people who agree with my cause... To me, the real problem is over-population of our planet, which tends to create war and conquest. But we have seen war in areas with low population density over territory, resources, religion, or simply a misunderstanding or different point of view. As 'Human Beings' we need to evolve out of our tendency towards war and conflict, allow people to live their own lives, respect their territory, their resources, and beliefs - even if they are different than ours.
Stealth and protection against heat seaking missles is important. If our society continues the way it is going, I may need some for my SUV.
Until then, I would like to see money spent on stem cell research to heal my moms rheumatoid arthritis, and grow a new ACL in my left knee...
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