Friday

16th Nov 2018

EU-funded consortium unveils border-control robot

  • The consortium, which includes Israeli Aerospace Industries, at one stage explored arming the interceptor with non-lethal weapons (Photo: lincolnblues)

An EU-co-financed project is aiming to mass-produce autonomous land vehicles designed to stop irregular migrants.

Using a €13 million grant from the European Commission's research budget and €7 million of private funding, a consortium of researchers and private firms has after four years of work produced a functioning prototype of the "transportable autonomous patrol for land border surveillance" or "Talos."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) was demonstrated in Poland in mid-April at a military training ground in front of a hundred-or-so people, including officials from Frontex, the EU's Warsaw-based border control agency, Polish ministers and border guards from around Europe.

The complete system includes two autonomous UGVs, an unmanned command unit and a two manned command centres. Sensor towers are deployed in areas not accessible to UGVs.

One vehicle - "the interceptor" - is designed to track and chase down suspicious people spotted by its twin vehicle, which is equipped with optical and infra-red sensors. If they notice a suspect, they notify the interceptor and the command units, where border guards can order people via an onboard loudspeaker to halt and present their papers.

It is no good running away because onboard motion detectors - known as a "battlefield radar" - keep track of people while human border guards set off to catch them.

Agnieszka Spronska, a Talos spokeswoman, told EUobserver the group is now seeking additional EU funding to further develop and eventually commercialise the UGV for mass production.

The consortium, which includes Israeli Aerospace Industries, at one stage explored arming the interceptor with non-lethal weapons, such as tear gas and, according to one soucre, "a kind of acoustic device."

The idea was later dropped and Spronska said the project never developed any interfaces or applications to house weapons. But official Talos literature says there is still "space" for non-lethal weapons "to be considered" in future.

A Polish border guard on the project's end-user advisory board also quoted by the Talos website said non-lethal weapons could be "useful for [those] countries, where there are no limitations to the usage of [them]."

In theory, just a handful of Talos-type units would be needed to patrol the 12.5-km-long land border between Greece and Turkey, where an estimated 80 percent of all illegal entries into the EU occur.

For his part Erik Berglund of Frontex, who chaired Talos' end-user advisory board, predicted they might one day patrol sensitive sites, such as nuclear power stations. But he said they are unlikely to be seen on EU borders. He noted that Israel might find them more digestible as border control devices, however.

He also said that Talos produced little by way of new technology for all its work, with Frontex interested primarily in using the sensors, but on stationary platforms.

"The major contribution is the mobile command centre and the communications equipment," Berglund said.

Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources

Romania's data protection authority is headed by Ancuta Gianina Opre, who in 2017 was charged with abuse of office in her previous job. Last week, she threatened a €20m fine against journalists in their effort to uncover corruption.

EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press

Romania's data protection authority has threatened a €20m fine against reporters investigating high-level corruption. The European Commission has since issued a warning, telling Romanian authorities to give press exemptions when it comes to privacy rights.

Romania 'using EU data protection law to silence journalists'

An award-winning journalism outlet in Romania is being threatened with fines by the country's data protection authorities - for having disclosed connections, on Facebook, of powerful politicians and a firm embroiled in scandal.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  2. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  3. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  4. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  5. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  6. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot
  7. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  8. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us