U.S. Customs and Border Protection plans to begin testing its first portable drone — small enough to launch from and land on the bed of a moving truck — in operational settings.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) awarded San Diego-based Planck Aerosystems, Inc. $200,000 to try out its autonomous, small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS).
CBP hopes the sUAS will serve as a portable, ruggedized detection system providing real-time situational awareness in the field through a combination of full-motion video, automatic detection and geolocation. The drone performs tasks autonomously, secures to the truck bed, features advanced computer vision and has communications interfaces that can be customized.
“S&T is looking for technologies to enhance the efficacy of CBP patrols while simultaneously increasing the safety of patrolling agents,” said Melissa Oh, managing director of S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP), in the announcement. “We look forward to the ways Planck will further refine its technology in support of this homeland security mission.”
DHS already uses drones and other aerial technology to monitor the border, but this sUAS can be deployed on the go.
Planck is in the fourth phase of SVIP, where it will focus on drone usability improvements like refining interfaces and nighttime functionality.