The future of military camouflage may be a cute chameleon robot

The (karma) chameleon changes colors as it comes and goes.

Researcher Guoping Wang of Wuhan University, China, and a handful of collaborators 3D-printed a chameleon robot that changes colors in response to its environment, as spotted by New Scientist. The little lizard is lined in plasmonic displays created out of gold-infused glass encased in an electrolyte gel containing silver ions. Using a light sensor, the displays read the reflective and absorbing properties of nearby colors. With the application of an electric field, the gold and silver ions interact so the displays take on these light properties, actively changing the chameleon's color.

So far, the camouflage robot can only detect red, green and blue. Researchers are optimistic that a more advanced chameleon will be able to read any color at all, New Scientist reports. If a similar system can be shrunk down and streamlined, it may be used in military camouflage pursuits, Wang tells the publication.

Scientists have previously taken cues from another animal, the majestic squid, in their hunt for on-demand camouflage.