UK test invisible tank tech
When James Bond appeared in Die Another Day with an invisible Aston Martin, many cinema-goers thought the producers had gone a little too far.I am skeptical. The tanks would have to not be moving for this to work. Otherwise, the dust thrown up would give them away.
But the Ministry of Defence has just revealed it is testing prototype technology that can make tanks and troops disappear.
It is developing special cameras that film the surrounding scenery and project it on to the men or their vehicles clad in reflective materials.
As a result enemies look straight "through" them.
Recent trials have had some success, according to the MoD, and use of the technology on the battlefield could be just a few years away.
Should it work, the technology could help cut down battlefield losses in future conflicts.
Military chiefs are also interested in a far more advanced technique that uses nano-technology to create Harry Potter style "invisibility cloaks".
Far-fetched as it sounds, invisibility expert Prof Sir John Pendry from Imperial College London said early experiments were encouraging.
He told The Daily Telegraph: "There are certain approaches to hiding things.
"The camera and projector approach is a pretty simple one and therefore it's probably realistic that it could be deployed in the near future."
He said Japanese academic Professor Susumu Tachi has already made himself "disappear" using a friend to project the background on to a reflective coat that acts as a photographic screen.
More exciting still is the prospect of a true invisibility cloak which does not rely on cameras, he said.
"Don't hold your breath - it's not going to be around this year or next, but may be in 10 years," he predicted.
But when it does the results could be amazing, he said. Whereas the camera/projector method only makes an object "invisible" from one angle, the cloak would make it disappear viewed from any direction.
The individual cloaks sound interesting, but actually, the US Army digital camouflage gear is already pretty good at blending in with the sofa and other items.