Active Camouflage

cuttlefish by naeomi

Active camouflage is camouflage which adapts to the actual surroundings of an object such as an animal or military vehicle. It is used in several groups of animals including cephalopods (e.g. squid, octopus) and flatfish in the sea, and reptiles on land (e.g. chameleon). Some sea creatures can counterilluminate (emit light to match the background) because in the sea, light comes down from the surface, so animals tend to appear dark when seen from below. Bioluminescence and color change also have other functions in animals including attracting prey and signalling mates.

In military usage, counterillumination camouflage was first investigated during the WWII for marine use. Current research aims at achieving crypsis (avoidance of detection) using cameras to sense the visible background, and panels or coatings which can vary their appearance. Military active camouflage has its origins in the diffused lighting camouflage tested on Canadian Navy corvettes during WWII. Later, a US Air Force program placed low-intensity blue lights on aircraft as counterillumination camouflage. As night skies are not pitch black, a 100 percent black-colored aircraft might be rendered visible.

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