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U.S. Border Patrol experimenting with drones to be the ‘eyes in the sky’

January 22, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
U.S. Border Patrol experimenting with drones to be the ‘eyes in the sky’ Army Training Area during field tests of drones. Wikipedia Commons

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With hopes of helping agents in the field, the Border Patrol is experimenting with a fleet of personal drones, giving agents in isolated areas a view of where they are currently blind.

“This drone could be deployed to assist agents, moving to a target or moving in on a group it detects,” Border Patrol Agent Jason Weatherby told Fox News.

In remote areas along the border, there is no fence and no cameras, only underground sensors that detect when something or someone makes it across the border. However, trying to “check out” every sensor hit over roads can take an agent off of his station for hours. By the time they get there, the illegal immigrant can already be miles away. A drone minimizes the gap, verifying whether a person or animal hit the sensor, how many illegal immigrants crossed over, and if any of them are armed.

“Drones could be their eyes and keep the agent from having to walk so far when their vehicles can no longer get where they need to be,” Weatherby added.

The southern border stretches nearly 2,000 miles, but a pedestrian fence protects less than 20%. Most fencing is built in urban areas, stretching out 10 or 20 miles in each direction. High-tech cameras permit agents to see illegals approach and can intercept them.

However, in rural areas, there is no fence or cameras, only underground seismic sensors that detect when something or someone crosses the border. But trying to “check out” every sensor hit over bad roads can take an agent off station for hours. By the time they arrive, the illegal immigrant can be miles away.

Drones close the gap, confirming the sensor hit as a person or animal, how many illegal immigrants are in a group and if any are armed.

“It saves time. It is quicker to deploy this and fly it down two miles to the border, than us trying to drive it,” Weatherby continued.

“Something like this in orbit can cover a large swath of desert area, as opposed to our camera systems that are focalized into what they can see,” Weatherby stated.

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