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MIT Technology Review

Palmer Luckey’s military startup will monitor US bases with AI

Several of Anduril's Lattice towers.Several of Anduril's Lattice towers.

Anduril, a company founded by Oculus Rift inventor Palmer Luckey, has secured a contract to monitor US military bases with its autonomous surveillance tech.

The news: Government documents show that Anduril was recently awarded a $13.5 million contract to monitor US Marine bases with autonomous systems. Two of the bases are in Japan; the others are in Hawaii and Arizona.

Greater autonomy: The contract called for a system that will work around the clock to autonomously “detect, identify, classify, and track humans on foot, wheeled and tracked vehicles on land, surface swimmers, and surface vessels and boat.” Anduril makes just such a perimeter-monitoring system, called Lattice, which uses sensor towers, drones, and machine learning to automatically identify trespassers.

Outflanked: The fallout over Google’s involvement in Project Maven showed that the military use of AI is controversial. But as this contract proves, the technology is already rapidly moving into the defense realm. It also highlights how existing defense contractors may be outmaneuvered by companies used to working at startup speed.

Origin story: Anduril was founded by Palmer Luckey, the inventor of Oculus Rift, along with veterans of the intelligence startup Palantir. Lucky has courted controversy in the past for developing technology designed to help monitor the US border—an issue charged with political overtones.

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