U.S. Border Patrol wants to build facial recognition drones

AsiaIndustrial NetWASHINGTON: Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has begun planning to use drones to monitor the border after U.S. President Donald Trump plans to implement a wall along the Mexican border. The agency is currently consulting with small drone makers DJI and Parrot, which CBP will deploy in the wild.

U.S. Border Patrol wants to build facial recognition drones

The drone needed by CBP first appeared in a call for contractors last summer, arguing that the drone must be small enough to be transported by truck and allow a border agent to fly in five minutes. Deployment is complete. Drones need to be equipped with advanced sensors, including infrared cameras and facial recognition. The solicitation notice clearly states that the aircraft must be small drones, that is, consumer-grade drones weighing no more than 55 pounds, in stark contrast to the Predator B drones that CBP has used.

A technical document in the call for proposals describes the characteristics of the drone that CBP needs to distinguish between natural and artificial characteristics, as well as people, animals and vehicles at long distances, as well as facial recognition capabilities. , any person can be cross-referenced against relevant law enforcement databases. CPB is looking for drones only by these characteristics, not a specific requirement. But this facial recognition capability needs to be adapted to the Homeland Security Department’s IDENT database, which currently contains the fingerprints and facial images of more than 170 million non-U.S. citizens. The FBI’s facial recognition checks are more extensive, scanning 411 million photos in state and federal databases.

CBP officials said the ability to identify in the wild would be very valuable to the department, especially linking cross-border criminal records. “When Border Patrol agents are on duty, they don’t have information, they don’t know a lot of communications, if they come across some heavily armed traffickers, Duty officers need to know if these people have criminal records or have assaulted officers.”

The interface of this type of drone may be completely different from that of a consumer drone. The department is interested in voice commands in the form of Siri, as border agents carry other heavy equipment or colleagues who operate drones do other things while on duty, the solicitation said. CBP has also expressed interest in multispectral sensors, such drones that can detect people trapped in forests and sometimes cross-country races or drug deals in border lanes.

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The biggest challenge for contractors is how to transmit data from drones, since traditional mobile phone service is lacking across much of the border. Consumer drones typically use the Wi-Fi of a laptop or cell phone for video distribution, but without cell service, traditional hotspots won’t work. If CBP personnel want to share video files with others while on duty, maintaining connectivity to the border network becomes important.

The solicitation notice issued by CBP has already attracted many companies. Last week, CBP announced that to expedite the submission time, all companies need to submit proposals for the project by April 27 because of the large number of companies interested in the project. Three companies have already met the requirements for prototype drones in Phase 1, and in December the agency announced the need for drones equipped with millimeter-wave scanning and lightweight radar systems. Agency officials say there will be more companies that meet the requirements.

CBP’s focus, according to one of the contractors, is that drones can record incidents and alert other agencies, and that drones will not be intercepted by hackers or jammed with signals. Derek Lyon, technical scout for Beyond the Drone, spoke with a representative from BirdsEyeView Aerobotics. “Any company that wants to launch a compliant drone in a short period of time will need a lot of money. The big question is how to do it.” Getting this funding quickly makes it difficult for small companies to estimate how long it will take them.

The drone solicitation is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s initiative to promote new law enforcement tools through a venture capital strategy. In 2014, the Department of Homeland Security opened an office in Silicon Valley to give the government access to new technologies through venture capital firms, led by the CIA’s controversial In-Q-Tel investment arm. After the Series B funding round, companies are required to submit a formal submission, followed by a series of reviews by the Silicon Valley office of the Department of Homeland Security. If the drone prototype meets the agency’s needs, the Department of Land and Re

Published on 09/04/2022