Past Features

April 16, 2017

Border Drones -- A better idea?

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Deseret News -- April 14, 2017
Why drones could be a better solution than a wall on the US-Mexico border
    The latest internal report estimates the cost of President Trump' U.S.-Mexico border wall at $22 billion. For an administration priding itself on the “art of the deal” and fiscal responsibility, this is not welcome news.
    Yet the president promised to build a wall. Should he push ahead? Thankfully for the president (and the American taxpayer), technology offers a better way to make our southern border more secure --- drones.
    Drones are already a key component of U.S. Border Patrol's efforts to build a virtual wall. First deployed in 2005, unarmed Predator drones can fly 20-hour missions and reach speeds of 275 mph, extending surveillance over the most remote parts of the border.
    Nine drones already fly several thousand hours a year. Procuring more drones and additional funding for flight hours will harness the full potential of technology to secure the border.
    Drones enable the Border Patrol to concentrate its resources. Most deployments record video that is carefully compared to past flights, identifying changes in terrain to signal cross-border traffic.
    Agents can then be dispatched to follow up on new trails and install new sensors. Gaps in security are closed. Remote areas with no traffic are justifiably ignored, saving the agency valuable time and resources.

Glenn Spencer -- April 16, 2017
Right idea, wrong drone
    American Border Patrol, the only non-profit on the border, began testing drones for border enforcement fourteen years ago.
    The idea was to have the drone launch only after sensors detected people.
    We soon learned that existing ground sensor had a false alarm rate of more than 90% --- sending the drone on wild goose chases.
    After many years of work, we began testing a system that married a small electric drone with a highly reliable patented ground sensor system --- SEIDARM.
    Today we are testing a system called IDENTICOPTER to intercept suspects. Here is a test using a slower drone.
    We are now using a new drone --- the DJI Inspire 2 --- it flies at more than 60 mph.
    The new IDENTICOPTER costs around $5,000. We are proposing that they be installed all along the border with SEIDARM.
    IDENTICOPTER could cover every inch of the border --- being at any one spot within two minutes after a SEIDARM detection - without upsetting commercial air traffic.
    Total cost? Assuming 1500 miles of the border is covered --- about $225 million.