Palmer Luckey Revolutionized VR. Now He’s Selling A.I. to the Marines.
The technology will allow for 24/7 automated surveillance near the U.S.-Mexico border in Yuma, Arizona, among other locations
Palmer Luckey, the virtual reality pioneer who founded Oculus, is now responsible for a real-world defense contractor.
Luckey’s defense firm Anduril is supplying the United States Marine Corps with $13.5 million in surveillance technology to secure four of its bases around the world, according to documents obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request and released today by Mijente, a Latinx activist organization lobbying tech firms to stop supplying technical support for border detentions and deportations. Other documents released by Mijente suggest that Luckey’s firm is also supplying drones and surveillance towers to third-party contractors, which are then selling the equipment to Customs and Border Protection.
Anduril did not immediately respond to a request for comment from OneZero.
The company’s technology will “autonomously detect and classify objects as humans on foot, wheeled and tracked vehicles on land, surface swimmers, and surface vessels and boats, and alert operators of such objects,” according to one of the documents obtained by Mijente and shared with journalists, which details the agreement between Anduril and the Marines. The contract describes the Anduril technology as a tool to autonomously detect potential intrusions to Marine locations on “surrounding air, land, and sea, through all-weather conditions.” What this means is that the Marines could use Anduril’s technology for 24/7 automated surveillance around its bases — including one near the U.S.-Mexico border in Yuma, Arizona, which has experienced a surge in border crossings so severe that in April the town’s mayor signed a proclamation of emergency. (The other bases mentioned in the documents are in Hawaii and Japan.)
Until now, there has been little concrete evidence that Anduril was making money from government contracts. The startup — which was founded in 2017 — had reportedly received funding under the Pentagon’s Project Maven, according to The Intercept, but the report didn’t detail anything but the arrangement…