Most of us may not be aware that the drainage system that lay beneath our city and carry sewage, are also being actively used for drug smuggling. The underground system that runs between the Mexico and the United States are among the frequently used routes by the drug smugglers. Till date officers from U.S. Border Patrol were responsible to keep an eye on these activities going inside these filthy drains. These officers guarding the city used to crawl through these rotting, smelling puddles and completely counting on their instinct to measure the dangers that they may encounter ahead. But now, thanks to the advancement in robotics, this filthy and dangerous work are now responsibilities of these machines.
Three out of four robots assigned to the Border Patrol station are deployed along the southern border. The tunnels that are discovered along the border in between Nogales, Mexico, to Nogales, Ariz, are not visible to patrolling officers, robots or camera, above the ground. Last year drugs, mostly marijuana worth 2.9 million pounds were seized by the Customs and Border Protection officers from not alone the tunnels, but also from illegal border crossers as well as at legal ports meant for entry.
The smugglers, to send the drugs across the border, build these tunnels. Some of the tunnels even have fans to circulate the air and lamps hanging from wires to illuminate the tunnels. Border Patrol agents keep filling the tunnels with concrete, leaving them unusable and place camera or motion detectors to watch underground dubious movement. In-spite of these efforts, tunnel diggers still exist.
The robots assigned to the Border Patrol team are relatively new to the battle. And the speed and mobility that comes along with these robots will help Border Patrol officers to keep eye on places that are unsafe and unhealthy for humans to inspect. And in case some mishap occurs, it would be a robot that would get hurt and not the human officers.
The robot’s camera gives the view from the sides, back, front, up and down and can be easily controlled using joysticks. Capable to move even in dark, congested area and in conditions, which are not favorable for humans to breathe in. Under such conditions, human officers used to wear kneepads, elbow pads, helmets, and gloves and even have to wear Tyvek suits to protect themselves from the risk that may creep below drainage. On the contrary, the robots need no such preparation and can be put to work in no time and work even faster than the human counterparts.
Drones are already being used by army in war zones to track the movement and to gather information in area not safe for humans. Similarly, such machines in the drainage tunnel would surely will save time and strengthen security system to fight against other enemies such as drug smugglers.