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High-tech Mexico border wall plan on display at CES

Self-driving cars technology is being proposed as a potential high-tech solution to the US border wall ‘situation’ at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 in Las Vegas.

Murat Atalay of Quanergy shows a display of technology based on systems from autonomous cars that could be used for a virtual border wall during CES 2019. Credit: AFP

Quanergy Systems, together with some other tech firms, are working on Lidar border security, claiming it would come at a far lower cost than a physical wall or fence, and with fewer environmental impacts.

To make their case, the firm showed the public how their technology had been deployed in pilot projects on the India-Pakistan frontier as well as a small section of the southern US border.

“We offer a solution that is more capable than a physical wall,” said Louay Eldada, chief executive and co-founder of the Silicon Valley startup. “It can see day and night in any weather and can automatically track intruders, and give the GPS coordinates in real time to patrol officers.”

Eldada added that such a system would cost “about two to three per cent” of the price of a physical barrier for the entire US-Mexico border.

Quanenergy CEO also underlined the environment and operating saving of an electronic barrier as opposed to a physical wall.

“A barrier is an eyesore and it intrudes on the environment, it impedes the flow of wildlife,” Eldada told AFP.

And without a wall in place, “you don’t have to have patrol officers driving back and forth, so you need fewer people” to monitor the border.

In 2011 the US government cancelled plans for an electronic fence after spending $1 billion, claiming the project would be “ineffective and too costly.”

But Eldada said that technology has improved substantially in recent years, particularly with the development of Lidar —light detection and ranging technology—paired with artificial intelligence.

“With the long range of Lidar, you detect things before they get to the perimeter, and the AI software is so much more advanced,” he said.

“We can get very high-resolution images, and look at someone’s behaviour. You can see every articulation. This allows you to see how each person is moving and have a good idea of whether it’s a patrol officer or someone about to cross illegally.”

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