By Steve Neavling
Border Patrol is soliciting proposals for drones that have the ability to recognize and analyze faces.
The small unmanned aerial systems would be easy enough for an agent to launch the drone in less than five minutes, the Verge reports.
Th drones would be outfitted with sophisticated censors with facility-recognition capabilities.
The consumer-grade drones would weigh under 55 pounds and could be carried in a truck.
One technical document included with the solicitation imagined a drone that could “distinguish between natural and artificial features, and between animals, humans, and vehicles at long range.” The drone would also include “facial recognition capabilities that allow it cross-reference any persons identified with relevant law enforcement databases.” The scenario meant as a hypothetical, illustrating the type of capability CBP is looking for rather than indicating a specific requirement. Still, those facial-recognition capabilities would work well with Homeland Security’s IDENT database, which currently contains more than 170 million fingerprints and facial images collected from non-citizens as they enter the United States. The FBI’s facial-recognition checks reach even further, scanning across 411 million photos in state and federal databases.
CBP officials said that kind of in-the-field identification could be immensely valuable to agents in the future, particularly crossed referenced with criminal records. “When a Border Patrol agent is out in the field, they may be very far from backup, they may not have great comms coverage,” said Ari Schuler, co-lead of CBP’s Silicon Valley office, which is managing the project. “If they encounter an armed group of human traffickers, for instance, they need to know whether those traffickers have a criminal record or are known to have assaulted an officer.”
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