High-tech Invisible Wall Helping in Surveillance along the US-Mexico Border
High-tech Invisible Wall

High-tech Invisible Wall Helping in Surveillance along the US-Mexico Border

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Cutting-edge cameras developed by Palmer Luckey, the founder and designer of Oculus VR and Oculus Rift, are helping the feds monitor the southern border through an invisible wall.

Called the Autonomous Surveillance Towers, the high-tech watch poles use artificial intelligence to scan a two-mile radius and detect movement within the range. The poles are powered by solar energy and transmit the information in real-time to agents patrolling the area. The technology is now being deployed at different spots along the 2,000 mile US-Mexico border.

“The ASTs are in remote locations that are difficult to reach,” said Border Patrol agent Joel Freeland. “They operate 24-hours a day and are environmentally friendly because they rely entirely on solar power.”

The towers were first deployed in the San Diego Sector of the border in 2018 and have now been set up in the El Paso Sector, one of the busiest crossing points for migrants along the border.

In the 2021 fiscal, agents have detained 155,892 people within the El Paso Sector, significantly more than the 54,396 people in all of FY2020.

“The AST scans the environment with radar to detect movement, orients a camera to the location of the movement detected by the radar, and analyzes the imagery using algorithms to autonomously identify items of interest, such as people or vehicles,” according to a statement from US Customs and Border Patrol.

Border Patrol agents on the ground expressed their gratitude to Luckey for the technology that assists thousands of agents deployed along the border, watching for migrants and smugglers who typically cross under cover of darkness.

“Before the ASTs, agents would only be able to monitor about a quarter of the area from their trucks,” said Freeland. “Now, we can see everything.”

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