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The United States Customs and Border Protection agency has announced plans to test autonomous drones in an effort to increase situational awareness for border patrol agents working at ports of entry. The agency has been at work with the United States Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate building and testing prototypes of small autonomous UAVs.
Planck Aerosystems, the company developing the UAVs, has been awarded $200 thousand for the fourth round of funding to test the prototype UAVs in operational environments over the next three to six months.
Planck’s UAVs are capable of launching and landing from and on moving vehicles. They have fully autonomous navigation capabilities and integrate several technologies, including video, target detection, and geolocation.
Planck has already been awarded between $50 thousand and $200 thousand to develop a proof of concept demonstration. Once their concept has been approved, the Science and Technology Directorate has approved the company for the next phase in testing, which consists of a cash grant in exchange for the company to develop a pilot-ready prototype within three to six months. The final phases involve testing the prototype in realistic operational scenarios.
Nextgov.com mentions that the Science and Technology Directorate is willing to fund up to $800 thousand for companies to develop and test their proof of concept.