US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is planning a live field test of an autonomous drone that would be used to give agents more awareness of the goings-on at the border. The drone in question is a prototype small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) from Planck Aerosystems that is being developed in conjunction with the Silicon Valley Innovation Program in Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T).
The Planck drone is able to take off and land on a moving vehicle, and possesses robust computer vision and navigation capabilities. In theory, it could also be outfitted with facial recognition technology to improve its surveillance reach. CBP has been bullish on biometric technology in recent months, promoting biometric screening at airports while issuing a call for biometric vendor partners.
“Through a combination of integrated technologies, including full-motion video, automatic target detection and geolocation, Planck seeks to provide CBP agents with a portable, ruggedized detection system that provides real-time situational awareness in the field,” explained S&T in its announcement of the project.
“S&T is looking for technologies to enhance the efficacy of CBP patrols while simultaneously increasing the safety of patrolling agents,” added Silicon Valley Innovation Program Managing Director Melissa Oh.
The test will likely be unwelcome to privacy advocates opposed to more widespread border surveillance. Planck received $200,000 for the trial, which will take place over the next three to six months.
September 4 2019 – by Eric Weiss