If you've ever seen a car covered in strange spirals, intricate patterns, or wacky squiggles, you may well be faced with a new, top-secret prototype equipped with a special coating of camouflage stickers.
Designed to prevent industrial espionage from capturing new model images when tested on the road, these designs make it extremely difficult for the human eye to focus on the contours.
In order to keep its projects secret, Ford of Europe decided to innovate in the style of its camouflages and is using a 3D “brick” design inspired by popular illusions found on the Internet. It uses thousands of black, gray and white cylinders arranged in a seemingly random manner in a chaotic criss-cross pattern. This makes it especially difficult to get a feel for the new exterior features in broad daylight, both live and in photos.
"Almost everyone has a smartphone now and can share photos instantly making it easy for everyone, including our competition, to see our test prototypes," says Lars Muehlbauer, Ford of Europe Camouflage manager. “Designers create beautiful models with very attractive designs. Our job is to hide them. "
As part of its rigorous development process, new models have to be put to the test on public roads. It takes about two months to prepare each new camouflage, which, once ready, is printed onto super-light vinyl stickers less than human hair thickness. Designs are first tested on a private Ford test track to verify that the camouflage works.
“I set out to create a design that is chaotic and confusing to the eye,” says Marco Porceddu, Ford of Europe Product Development Vehicle Prototype Engineer, who has developed the new camouflage. “I did research on optical illusions on the Internet and came up with a shape that could be copied and overlapped thousands of times. This creates both an optical illusion and a 3D effect ”.
Designed to withstand extreme temperatures, Ford camouflage blends in with European winter environments, while sandy colors are used in Australia and South America.
"This camouflage will be striking in almost any environment, but it has been designed to destroy the integrity of the vehicle's shape, surfaces and color, delaying the human brain's ability to recognize its main features," says Martin Stevens, associate professor of the University of Exeter, who has been studying pigmentation and camouflage in animals for almost 15 years.
“The optical illusion does not prevent the car from being seen, but it plays on our ability to measure depth of field and shadows, making it difficult to appreciate the shapes and characteristics of the vehicle. It is a trick used by nature to escape from something and hide that is just as useful for a test driver. "
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