Virtual reality technology made Palmer Luckey a multi-millionaire. Now, the Oculus co-founder's new company is using artificial intelligence technology to create a high-tech surveillance system that could be used to build a "virtual wall" on the southern US border.
In fact, Anduril Industries, the defense technology start-up Luckey founded in 2017, has already tested its border control tech in Texas and San Diego. In those tests, Anduril's surveillance technology helped US border agents catch dozens of people who were trying to cross the border into the US without authorization, US Customs and Border Protection told Wired in June 2018.
When Luckey was only 21 years old, he sold Oculus, the virtual reality headset company, to Facebook for over $2 billion just a few years after creating the first prototype as a teenager working out of his parents' garage.
Here's how Luckey, now 26, describes his latest company's AI-powered system, which is called Lattice, in an October 2018 interview with CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin: "What Lattice is is an AI-powered sensor fusion platform that can take data from thousands of sensors and integrate it into a single cohesive, real-time 3-D model that has everything in it tagged using machine learning — so, all the people, all the vehicles, all the drones and the aircraft over very large areas."
Lattice uses a network of connected cameras and infrared sensors that can be set up along wide swaths of land (attached to towers, or even to small flying drones), potentially covering hundreds of miles of the US border. The system's AI-powered technology can scan for movement miles away while analyzing the source to see if it has spotted a person, a vehicle, an animal, etc.
Anduril's technology has "a lot of applications," Luckey tells CNBC. "We're securing military bases, we have sites that are on the U.S. border, we're doing some programs we can't talk about," Luckey says. "There's a lot of applications for this in protecting oil pipelines, protecting airports, protecting power plants — basically, anywhere where you want to know everything that's going on, so that you can have people focusing on responding to problems instead of looking for the problems."