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Should Robots Patrol the US-Mexico Border?

Ghost Robotics Robot Dog

Patrolling the southern border of the U.S. is a dangerous job… for humans, that is. This is why the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is looking into robot dogs as the solution.

“The southern border can be an inhospitable place for man and beast, and that is exactly why a machine may excel there,” said Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) program manager, Brenda Long. “This S&T-led initiative focuses on Automated Ground Surveillance Vehicles, or what we call ‘AGSVs.’ Essentially, the AGSV program is all about… robot dogs.”

Yes, the U.S. government is looking into implementing robot dogs as border sentries. “The goal of the program is to leverage technology to force-multiply the CBP presence, as well as reduce human exposure to life-threatening hazards,” the department said in a recent blog post.

The American southwest is mostly a hot, dry desert, so this type of technological improvement only makes sense. Not only does the Department of Homeland Security recognize that many people die each day crossing the border into that dangerous terrain, but the security of the border is important for the entire country and its citizens.

“…Along the border you can also have human smuggling, drug smuggling, as well as smuggling of other contraband—including firearms or even potentially, WMD,” explained Agent Brett Becker of the CBP Innovation Team (INVNT). “These activities can be conducted by anyone from just a lone individual, all the way up to transnational criminal organizations, terrorists or hostile governments—and everything in between.”

The department has been working with Ghost Robotics, whom we first heard about when we reported on their assault-rifle-mounted robot dogs. While there’s no indication that these border patrol robots will have any weapons, we thought it was interesting to note that this is the same company.

Currently, the idea is still in the planning stages, and, as S&T notes, these robotic dogs would need a lot more training and testing to get to the field.

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“…In a desert area, the dogs were programmed to go on simulated sentry duty,” the DHS blog post explained. “Under this autonomous mode setting, the AGSVs headed out and made turns when they reached pre-determined GPS waypoints. After completing their circuit, they returned to base. This was done in the daylight, as well as at night.

“Additional testing included putting the dogs through the paces of simulated inspections outside, inside, and under train cars at railyards.”

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Shawn has been infatuated with the post-apocalyptic genre since he wore out his horribly American-dubbed VHS of the original Mad Max as a child. Shawn is the former Editor-in-Chief at Joystiq's Massively.com, creator of the Aftermath post-apocalyptic immersion event, and host of the Through the Aftermath podcast for over 11 years. He currently resides on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere with his wife and four children.

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