Non-Visible Infrared/Ultraviolet Paint

Question: Here at our Automation Technology Laboratory at the University, we’ve been using “landmarks” for mobile robot navigation.


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Question:

Here at our Automation Technology Laboratory at the University, we’ve been using “landmarks” for mobile robot navigation. The landmarks are actually printed black and white images attached to the ceiling. The robot has a camera and a computer vision system is able to localize the robot using the landmarks. The problem is, the landmarks are considered unaesthetic by some people. So the question is: Is there a paint that we could use to paint the landmarks so that they would not be visible to humans? We were thinking of using infrared-absorbing (or reflecting) paint and an IR-camera. Black paint would absorb well but is visible. Does paint that only affects non-visible frequencies exist?

Another approach would be to use UV paint and a light source to reveal the paint. But the light requires quite a lot of power and the energy on the robot is quite limited. J.K.

Answer:

Indeed, there are paints containing pigments that are visible to infrared (IR) radiation and there are also paints containing pigments that are invisible to IR. Although I am not too familiar with them, (it has been nearly 50 years since I was on active duty with the USAF) they have military applications as camouflage. The only time I need camouflage now is when I’m hiding from my wife at chore time. Unless these materials are classified for National Security reasons, they should be available from paint suppliers listed on pages 286–288 of the 2004 Products Finishing Directory and Technology Guide (www.pfonline.com/suppliers.html).

 

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