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Monday, 4 November, 2002, 08:38 GMT
Smart paint creates chameleon tanks
US army tanks on exercise
Tanks could soon be able to mend themselves
Tanks that can repair themselves and change colour on the battlefield are being developed in the US.

A team of researchers based at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, along with the US Army's Armament Research and Development Center are working on the smart machines.

Military vehicles including tanks, trucks helicopters and weapon systems will be covered with a coating that has been embedded with nanotechnology.

The microscopic electromechanical machines - known as nanomachines - will send signals to Army personnel, alerting them if the coating is impaired.

Chameleon tanks

If tanks are corroded or scratched, the vehicles will be able to detect it and heal themselves.


Smart coatings technology will make our armed forces more high tech and more effective

Rodney Frelinghuysen, US Congressman
The coatings could also reduce the sensitivity of explosives, making them safer for soldiers to handle.

Perhaps most importantly, tanks would turn chameleon, creating instant camouflage and making themselves virtually invisible on the battlefield.

"Smart coatings technology will make our armed forces more hi-tech and more effective," said New Jersey Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen.

The US army is keen on the idea of smart coatings because the paints used now are expensive and labour-intensive to apply.

Army leaders estimate that the cost of repairing vehicles' surfaces amounts to $10bn each year, $2bn of which is related to painting and scraping.

See also:

03 Oct 02 | Technology
23 Sep 02 | Americas
28 Mar 02 | Science/Nature
31 May 01 | Americas
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