The 25-year-old millionaire responsible for creating the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset is now using VR technology to help secure the southern border. After his firing from Facebook over a year ago, Palmer Luckey has returned to the spotlight with his new plan to meld artificial intelligence and surveillance technology to track border activity. This project will send 3D images to a VR headset and will signal if an illegal alien is crossing the border.
Luckey’s claim to fame came when he received about $2.4 million in crowdfunding in 2012 to create the Oculus Rift VR headset. Just two years later, Facebook would buy the rights to the headset and the Oculus brand for $2 billion. Luckey remained with Oculus as a Facebook employee but was inexplicably fired in 2017, after funding a group that promoted then-candidate Donald Trump.
After his stint with Facebook, Luckey created a company called Anduril Industries. Its website states that American companies need “to step up and solve crucial national security problems.” The company’s border security project is called Lattice. Lattice is still in the testing phase but is composed of “32-foot towers packed with radar, communications antennae, and a laser-enhanced camera,” according to Wired. The system uses artificial intelligence to detect illegal aliens and to recognize the difference between people, animals, and other objects. The towers used for testing, which can detect motion up to two miles away, can be transported in the back of a pickup truck and installed in less than an hour.
Thanks to the efforts of Representative Will Hurd (R-Texas), a rancher in Texas has agreed to allow Anduril to test three towers on his property, which runs along the border. Within the span of ten weeks, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), with the help of Lattice, caught 55 illegal aliens crossing the border, according to Wired. The U.S. government is also evaluating Lattice along the border near San Diego, which led to the interception of 10 illegal border crossings in its first 12 days.
The towers transmit a video signal that can be viewed as a 3D image through a VR headset. The journalist who wrote the aforementioned Wired article was allowed to try out the system. He saw a cow labeled “ANIMAL 86%” and a human labeled “PERSON 98%” in green squares. This type of information would help CBP Officers decide where and when to deploy border enforcement resources.
Anduril Industries is currently pitching Lattice to the Department of Homeland Security. Representative Hurd said that Anduril’s project would cost about a half million dollars per mile to implement – or just under $1 billion to implement along the entire United States border with Mexico. Considering that three prototype towers have already aided in catching 55 illegal aliens, the completed project could be a great addition to the physical border wall that President Trump has been asking for.