DHS Contract Will Help Drones Automatically Spot Border Threats

This photo made with a drone, shows the U.S. Mexico border fence as it cuts through the two downtowns of Nogales, Ariz.

This photo made with a drone, shows the U.S. Mexico border fence as it cuts through the two downtowns of Nogales, Ariz. Brian Skoloff/AP File Photo

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The end result would be smarter small reconnaissance systems.

The Homeland Security Department is investing in drone technology that could keep border patrol agents safer in the line of duty.

The DHS Science and Technology Directorate on Tuesday awarded a $200,000 contract to Intelleuron to develop an adaptive reconnaissance platform that allows small unmanned aerial systems to better spot danger on the ground.

The technology can automatically locate potential threats like armed smugglers and operate across every type of terrain and weather. Customs and Border Protection plans to use the system to support operations in the most remote regions of the border.

Intelleuron, an Idaho-based software company that develops machine learning and autonomous vehicle navigation systems, is the most recent group to join the Silicon Valley Innovation Program, the agency’s internal startup accelerator.

“Ensuring the safety of front-line officers and agents is a top priority for both CBP and S&T. Technology that identifies threats to CBP agents enables those agents to defuse potentially dangerous situations proactively,” said Melissa Ho, the managing director of SVIP, in a statement. “We are excited to see how Intelleuron’s technology will evolve over the course of this project.”

The award comes as agencies struggle to recruit startups to solve some of their most pressing technical challenges. Notoriously lengthy project timelines and convoluted purchasing processes make many budding companies wary of working with government, but initiatives like SVIP aim to clear those bureaucratic obstacles and bring more innovative technologies into the fold.