SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico – The feds have turned to state-of-the-art cameras developed by a virtual reality guy to help them control the southern border by creating an invisible border wall.
High-tech watchtowers known as stand-alone watchtowers are powered by solar energy and use artificial intelligence to detect movement within a two-mile radius, sending real-time information to agents who they patrol the area.
And now they are settling at different points on the nearly 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.
“ASTs are in remote places that are hard to reach,” border patrol officer Joel Freeland recently told The Post. “They work 24 hours a day and are environmentally friendly because they are completely dependent on solar energy.”
The ASTs were developed by Palmer Luckey, the founder and designer of 28-year-old Oculus VR and Oculus Rift.
The towers, which were first tested in 2018 in the San Diego border sector, have recently been implemented in the El Paso sector, one of the busiest crossing points for migrants at the border.
Agents working in the El Paso sector have so far arrested 155,892 people in fiscal year 2021, which ends Sept. 30, nearly triple the 54,396 of the full fiscal year 2020.
“Most of us [recent] fears have come of this tower, “Freeland said, pointing to the new AST in the El Paso sector, which is located in a high remote scrub where the borders of Texas, New Mexico and the Mexican state of Chihuahua lie. camera has been in operation only the last two weeks.
Officials would not provide an exact number on how many apprehensions there have been thanks to the towers.
“AST scans the environment with radar to detect motion, directs a camera to the location of motion detected by radar, and analyzes images using algorithms to autonomously identify items of interest, such as people or vehicles.” according to a statement. of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, which plans to deploy 140 of the cameras to create a virtual wall along the border.
Luckey, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, markets the towers using a network of interconnected cameras and sensors through Anduril Industries, the start of defense technology he founded in 2017.
Anduril did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Field Border Patrol agents said they appreciate Luckey for the technology, which complements the work of thousands of agents deployed along the border with Black and White Border Patrol pickups and SUVs. They watch out for migrants and smugglers who normally cross under the cover of darkness.
“Before the ASTs, agents could only control about a quarter of the area from their trucks,” Freeland said. “Now, we can see it all.”
Luckey initially designed the Oculus VR system working in his parents’ garage in California when he was a teenager. The company he co-founded to build Oculus was sold to Facebook in March 2014 for $ 2 billion.
Luckey continued to work with Facebook. But three years later, he left in the middle of the reaction after it was reported that he had given $ 10,000 to a pro-Trump group that created anti-Hillary Clinton memes. He later said in a Facebook post he had given the group because he thought they had “fresh ideas.”