Robots Help Border Patrol Seize Illicit Goods


For the last several years, drug cartels in Mexico have been building tunnels on the border between the US and Mexico in order to transport everything from marijuana, to meth, to guns and even people. The cartels—with the help of businesses and people in the US—built the underground tunnels in order to avoid the risks associated with smuggling drugs above ground, according to USA Today. Border Patrol struggled investigating these tunnels (most of which appear in Arizona and California) as many are poorly built and therefore dangerous to enter. Thanks to new technology, however, the tunnels will be much easier to navigate.

The new technology in question is a wireless, security camera-powered robot that travels through the tunnels. An officer above ground manages the robot with a handheld device in order to assess what illicit goods are being transported underground, according to USA Today. The robots weight around 12 pounds and can travel in spaces that are only a couple feet wide.

The US has discovered around 170 tunnels since 1990, some of which are rudimentary (hand dug, PVC pipes) and some of which are highly sophisticated (one was 600 yards long and contained electric railcars and ventilation). The robots eliminate the need for an officer to travel underground to investigate the tunnels, which could lead to a collapse or entrapment. They also complete the tunnel investigation much quicker than a human could. 

Posted by Jamie Friedlander on Jan 15, 2014

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