Invisibility cloak makes tank disappear, enemies worry

Adaptiv uses a trick from Predator to make vehicles blend into their surroundings, like chameleons. Chameleons armed to the teeth.

As if tanks weren't scary enough, scientists have now found a way to make them invisible. Seriously. It makes that Harry Potter Cloak they were working on making real look a little bit pansy in comparison.

The system, known as Adaptiv, allows vehicles to blend into their surroundings and vanish when viewed in infrared, Sky News reports. Sheets of lightweight hexagonal pixels are powered by the vehicle's engine to change temperature very quickly, so when seen through a thermal scope, the pixels disguise the vehicle's heat.

Hey presto, your tank looks like part of the background. It's the same principle Arnie used to stay unseen by the Predator's thermal-imaging vision, but doesn't involve covering yourself in mud.

The pixels, each about the size of a hand, are made of metal, ensuring they're robust. To cover a tank you'll need around 1,000 pixel panels.

Maker BAE Systems claims the technology is so adaptive you can also make tanks look like other vehicles, such as family hatchbacks, when seen through infrared. Though not just when heading out to Tesco for the big shop, unfortunately.

Symbols could also be placed on vehicles to help identify them, to avoid friendly fire incidents.

Project manager Peder Sjolund said, "Earlier attempts at similar cloaking devices have hit problems because of cost, excessive power requirements or because they were insufficiently robust. We can resize the pixels to achieve stealth for different ranges. A warship or building, for instance, might not need close-up stealth, so could be fitted with larger panels."

Buildings disappearing? Sounds like the stuff of crazy sci-fi films, but we could be seeing it within two years.