DHS Program Aims to Force-Multiply CBP Presence With Commercial Tech

A Department of Homeland Security program allows the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to explore the use of Automated Ground Surveillance Vehicles, known as “robot dogs,” in national security-focused operations along the southern U.S. border.

DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate, in collaboration with Philadelphia-based Ghost Robotics, has been working to develop and test – and potentially deploy – the 100-pound AGSVs which can traverse a multitude of different terrains and withstand the harsh environmental conditions for which the American Southwest is known.

With high-tech cameras, sensors, radios, real-time video and data transmission capabilities and other innovative features, these resilient robot dogs are designed to increase the CBP’s presence along the U.S.-Mexico border and “reduce human exposure to life-threatening hazards” posed by illegal activities, extreme temperatures and dangerous landscapes, among other threats.

AGSV evaluations and experiments have been conducted over the past two and a half years in a wide range of real-world settings and environmental conditions. The robot dogs have undergone testing in capabilities such as landscape navigation, situational assessments, sentry duties, train car inspections and endurance.

Brenda Long, the S&T program manager leading the project, said the directorate’s robot dog initiative reflects a larger trend in U.S. defense toward autonomous vehicles.

“Technology such as semi-autonomous drones (air, ground, and even water) are used effectively as force multipliers elsewhere—and robot dogs are no different,” Long commented.

Recently, CBP tapped Red Cat Holdings subsidiary, Teal Drones, to provide the agency with unmanned aircraft through a five-year, $90 million blanket purchase agreement. The drones will support CBP’s surveillance and reconnaissance activities to enhance situational awareness for field commanders.

DHS and CBP leaders will converge to discuss cutting-edge technological developments across the U.S. borders during the Potomac Officers Club’s 2022 Border Protection Innovations and Technology Forum on March 15.

Thomas Overacker, executive director of Cargo and Conveyance Security at CBP, is scheduled to keynote the event and share exclusive insights into how his agency is leveraging industry innovations to comply with evolving security standards and better fortify U.S. border security.

Register here for the 2022 Border Protection Innovations and Technology Forum on March 15.

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