San Diego-based autonomous drone maker Planck Aerosystems has received a $500,000 grant to help the Department of Homeland Security deploy a small unmanned aircraft system in a controlled environment for testing and evaluation.
DHS said Tuesday that Customs and Border Protection agents will use Planck-built sUAS, along with launch-and-recovery equipment, in maritime scenarios and other possible operational settings under a Silicon Valley Innovation Program Phase 5 agreement with the company.
Planck fine-tuned its technology in the earlier stages of development to incorporate comments and requirements from CBP regarding system features such as navigation, target detection, geolocation and “wingman” capability.
The system autonomously launched and landed a drone from a moving vehicle as part of a test conducted in the fourth phase of SVIP.
Ron McNeal, SVIP transition director, said the company's "ability to adapt the technology based on our feedback shows an understanding of what it takes to transition these much-needed capabilities to the government.”
The award given to Planck is part of CBP's collaboration with DHS' science and technology directorate, which oversees the innovation program, to provide border patrol agents rugged and mobile platforms designed to increase their situational awareness in real-time.