Washington, June 30 (ANI): Patrol agents along the US border are using a sophisticated ground penetrating radar to spot illegal tunnels dug by criminals.
While most tunnels are used to move drugs or people, they could also be used to move in weapons and explosives for a terrorist attack.
Tunnels are a serious challenge for border patrol agents because they can begin and end almost anywhere.
Their entrances and exits are often hidden inside old warehouses or under trees; if old ones are discovered, new ones are quickly begun.
Of every tunnel ever discovered by US border patrol agents, 60 percent have been found in the last three years.
"All of them have been found by accident or human intelligence," said Ed Turner, a project manager with the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S and T). "None by technology," he added.
To battle these secret burrows in the 21st century, S and T thinks this will have to change. In partnership with Lockheed Martin, DHS S and T is pursuing a fresh approach that uses sophisticated ground penetrating radar.
The new design technology is to place the radar antennas in a trailer that will be towed by a Border Patrol truck.
The antennas shoot a signal directly into the ground and use it to construct a multi-colored picture of the earth.
Tunnels show up as red, yellow, and aquamarine dots against a blue background. Border patrols agents would see these images on a monitor mounted inside their truck.
Ground penetrating radar is a promising technology because it is already used by civil engineers to reconstruct underground images.
These engineers, however, are usually only interested in detecting cables or pipes that may be a few meters beneath the earth.
S and T must find tunnels that often run much deeper.
To find these, the radar uses much lower frequencies that penetrate the ground much better, and a sophisticated new imaging technology that can display clear pictures of deep tunnels.
If successful, the tunnel detection technology will help agents locate and plug tunnels almost as fast as the criminals can dig them. (ANI)