A wireless, compact, camera-equipped robot will soon be joining the war against drug smuggling along the United States’ southern border.
The new round of state-of-the-art technology will work alongside camera towers, unmanned aerial drones and wireless technologies to watch the 168 discovered tunnels in Arizona and California used mostly to smuggle drugs.
Because of tight land, air and water surveillance among the U.S.-Mexico border, traffickers have gone underground, where this new round of technology will be used.
“We’ve found all types of contraband in Nogales [Arizona],” border patrol Agent Kevin Hecht said. “We’ve had marijuana, we’ve had cocaine, we’ve had heroine, we’ve had some meth.”
The robot will be able to transform into a drone with a 12-gauge shotgun, a feature that won’t be activated according to Hecht.
“That is not an option we needed right now,” he said.
The robots will be sent ahead of agents in order to detect potential threats.
“Once you determine there’s no threats and it’s safe for the agent to make entry, then the agent can clear the tunnel and investigate further beyond what the robot was able to do.”
Tunnel robots have been used by the Border Patrol for years. They can navigate safely throughout pipes, tunnels, and drainage systems while agents control them from the surface, watching the robot’s every move from a handheld screen.
The new batch of robots, only 19 inches wide and weight 12 pounds, can flip, maneuver through rough terrain, climb stairs, and navigate through narrow passageways. They will be deployed this year across southern Arizona and California.
Sources: Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, Associated Press