In the natural world, camouflage plays a vital role in animal survival. Synthetic forms of camouflage have also long been of interest on the battlefield.
During the First World War, camouflage schemes were used to disguise observation posts as trees. At sea, warships were painted with highly visible dazzle patterns designed to confuse enemy gunners.
This clever creature is a master of disguise – able to transform itself from completely invisible to totally obvious in less than a second. The cuttlefish uses a complex mix of coloured pigments, iridescent multilayers and scattering reflectors to hide in a wide range of environments.
Here at QinetiQ, we have recently developed a camouflage modelling system based on biomimetic techniques from the cuttlefish. Using the QinetiQ system, you can feed in a series of images of any given military environment (e.g. a desert or urban terrain) and calculate an optimum camouflage pattern.
The innovative system is already attracting interest from prospective defence customers with other lucrative applications in the leisure market – including hunting and bird watching.
This work draws on QinetiQ’s wealth of expertise in supplying stealth materials to the MOD for use on military platforms, equipment and in clothing.
QinetiQ’s recent work has shown how much we still have to learn from nature in developing 21st century camouflage solutions. So, the prospect of an ‘invisible tank’ may be closer than we think.
Find out more about this work.