Scientists develop ‘chameleon drone’ that can change color

A team of scientists at the University of South Australia has developed a drone that can take on the color of the sky. In this way, the ‘chameleon drone’ becomes invisible from the ground. The Australian Ministry of Defense is very interested in the technology, which is also used to darken windows.

Scientists develop ‘chameleon drone’ that can change color


To be able to take on the color of the background, the researchers have developed lightweight polymer panels that can change color on command. The panels are mounted on a drone in order to make it invisible in relation to the background.

The technique that makes this possible is called electrochromism. The color the material takes on depends on the applied voltage. The technique is also used to darken the windows of aircraft and rear-view mirrors in luxury cars as desired.

Memory effect

“However, existing electrochromic materials react too slowly and also require too much power. Our panels can change color in seconds. In addition, there is a memory effect: a panel keeps its color even when the power is turned off,” said lead researcher Dr Kamil Zuber.

The panels that the team has developed are controlled by a voltage between -1.5 and +1.5 volts. The team has already developed a prototype of a drone equipped with multiple panels. It could indeed take on different colors.

The next step is to have the drone automatically match its color to the background. Zuber: “For example, the drone can be colored light blue when the sky is clear, and turn gray as soon as a cloud moves past.”

Invisible Reconnaissance Drones

The military in Australia is interested in technology. Drones equipped with the material could become invisible during reconnaissance missions, thereby disguising their presence.

Scientists Develop 'Chameleon Drone' That Can Change Color 1

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This article first appeared on Dronewatch and is written by Wiebe de Jager who is also a DroneXL contributor.

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Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager (@wdejager) is the founder of Dronewatch and author of several bestselling books about drone photography. Wiebe is a certified drone pilot and has a full ROC license.

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