The U.S. government appears to be favoring the expansion of surveillance technology deployments along the border with the inclusion of funds for autonomous surveillance towers and other border security platforms in an omnibus budget package, The Washington Post reported Friday.
On Thursday, Congress approved and sent to the White House a $1.5 trillion spending package to fund the federal government through the end of September.
The omnibus measure includes $21 million in additional funds to continue operating the ASTs and a funding pool of more than $200 million for border security that can be used to broaden autonomous surveillance.
“Deployments in new technology over the last 10 years have dramatically increased our ability to interdict narcotics and weapons, disrupt transnational criminal and human smuggling operations, and rescue countless individuals victimized by unscrupulous smugglers,” Marsha Espinosa, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, told the Post.
“DHS will continue to invest in technologies that increase its operational advantage at our borders,” Espinosa added, according to the publication.
The Customs and Border Protection at DHS has fielded approximately 175 units of ASTs along the southern border under a five-year contract with California-based Anduril Industries.
The autonomous towers use cameras, thermal imaging and radar to feed Anduril’s artificial intelligence-based software, dubbed Lattice, to process large volumes of data, determine whether a moving object is an individual, animal or a vehicle and then transmit coordinates to Border Patrol agents.
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