To help patrol the border between the United States and Canada, the Department of Homeland Security plans to launch test flights of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)--also known as drones--later in 2007.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced Jan. 8 it intends to use the drones in a pilot program by Sept. 30. The program would take place in Grand Forks, ND, because of its proximity to the country's border with Canada.

"As unmanned aircraft have proven to be effective on our southern border, this first step in North Dakota will lay the foundation to expand unmanned aerial system operations along the nation's northern border," said Michael Kostelnik, assistant commissioner for CBP's Office of Air and Marine.

UAVs feature cameras that can observe and detect motion, and they will complement law enforcement and critical incident responses, the agency said.

In addition, CBP plans to restart drone flights over the U.S.-Mexico border using Predator B aircraft in November. That program was halted in April 2006 after the first Predator drone crashed as a result of a navigation error, according to government probes.

CBP also announced it will incorporate satellite infrastructure at its Air and Marine Operations Center in Riverside, CA, in 2007.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from Washington Technology (01/09/07); Vol. 1, No. 1; Lipowicz, Alice.