A MIGRANT makes a furtive dash across an unwalled rural section of a national border, only to be confronted by a tracked robot that looks like a tiny combat tank - with a gimballed camera for an eye. As he passes the bug-eyed droid, it follows him and a border guard's voice booms from its loudspeaker. He has illegally entered the country, he is warned, and if he does not turn back he will be filmed and followed by the robot, or by an airborne drone, until guards apprehend him.
Welcome to the European border of the not-too-distant future. Amid the ever-present angst over illegal immigration, cross-border terrorism and contraband smuggling, some nations are turning to novel border-surveillance technologies, potentially backed up by robots, a conference on state security at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK, heard in November. The idea is to scatter arrays of sensors in a border area in ways that give guards or robots plenty of time to respond before their targets make good an escape.
An article at NewScientist titled, Robot border guards to patrol future frontiers, reports that:
the US Department of Homeland Security, along with Boeing Intelligence and Security Systems, is fielding sensors on the border with Mexico, in an $8 billion project called the Secure Border Initiative network.