Militaries using technology to mimic civilian vehicles like realistic versions of Autobots will violate the Geneva Convention

Under article 37 of the 1949 Geneva conventions, ruses such as camouflage, decoys, mock operations and misinformation are all permitted however, complete disguising as a civilian is not.

‘Adaptiv’ technology [developed by BAE Systems in Sweden] uses cameras on-board the target, such as an armored vehicle to detect the infrared readings of the background and then project it from the vehicle to blend into the background. The technology can also be used to pretend to be a civilian car.

Adaptiv tech consists of an array of about 1000 hexagonal Peltier plates which can be rapidly heated and cooled to form any desired image, such as of the natural background or of a non-target object.

For crypsis, the panels can display an infrared image of the vehicle’s background; this can be updated as the vehicle moves. For mimesis, an image of a chosen object, such as a car, can be retrieved from Adaptiv’s library and superimposed on the background. The illustration shows Adaptiv mimicking a four wheel drive car, using part of the panel, while the rest of the panel is cryptic, imitating the natural background. The technology is said to reduce the range at which a vehicle would be detected to less than 500 meters.

The panels forming Adaptiv’s pixels are hexagons approximately 5.5 inches (14 cm) wide. They are robust, contributing to the armour of the vehicle that carries them. The system allows its operator to “grab” a thermal image from a vehicle or other object for display.

The company intends to develop a lighter version that could be used on helicopters. A version for ships could in principle use larger panels.

An armored vehicle fitted with ‘Adaptiv’ infrared side panels, switched off (left), and on to simulate a large car (right), demonstrates both crypsis and mimesis.

If camouflage is used to pretend to be a non-combatant in order to deceive the enemy and thereby to cause death, Boothby says, it could be outlawed under the Geneva convention clause entitled “prohibition of perfidy”.

Similarly, camouflage that involves misuse of enemy, UN, protective, or neutral signs, flags and emblems is banned. Wearing an invisibility uniform might, it is suggested, additionally breach a combatant’s obligation to have a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance and to carry arms openly.

A combatant whose weapon is rendered invisible by its coating is arguably not complying with the minimal requirements of carrying a weapon openly.

SOURCES – Guardian UK, Wikipedia