This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are a huge asset for ISR. Given the huge importance of remaining undetected during ISR operations, the static color of drones can be a significant problem. All military UAVs are currently hindered by the same simple problem – the sky changes color, but they don’t.
A new development will allow drones to match their appearance to the background colors of the sky. A range of lightweight panels that can change color on demand has been developed by the material scientists from the University of South Australia and the country’s Department of Defense.
The lightweight polymer panels are what are known as electrochromic materials, meaning they change color in response to an electric field, and the exact colors can be tuned to specific voltages.
Similar technology has been used in luxury cars, for dimming mirrors, and on the windows of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. However, the new panels have switching speeds in the range of seconds and offer color memory, which means they retain their switched color without a continuously applied voltage. They also operate in the range from -1.5 to +1.5 volts, which means you only need to use an AA battery to activate the change.
In addition to their chameleon-like characteristics, the panels are inexpensive, lightweight and durable, and can be either rigid or flexible, making them ideal for use on drones of all sizes and specifications.
The technology is currently being refined to integrate self-awareness and autonomous adjustment into the system, so drones will be able to automatically change color in response to changes in the surrounding environment, according to uasvision.com.