Its not just that theres nowhere to hide from drones anymore. Soon, you wont even be able to see them coming.

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.

Plextek director Nicholas Hill says that for aircraft, camouflage is not a matter of color but of luminance.

An aircraft is easily visible when it is much lighter or darker than the sky behind it. E-ink panels allow that to be tweaked easily and quickly.

The prototype has to be adjusted manually, but Hill says that later versions could adapt automatically based on input from an upwards-facing camera that assesses the background behind the aircraft.


The U.S. and Canadian militaries experimented with a similar idea back in World War II


For aircraft, camouflage is not a matter of color but of luminance.

Compared to these camo technologies of decades past, the modern e-ink version of counter-illumination is lighter and more responsive in terms of the shades of sky it can match, as the wings can be made both lighter and darker.