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Palmer Luckey’s Anduril Gets Boost from US Marines

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey’s closely watched surveillance startup Anduril Industries will be helping to protect four U.S. Marine bases, in a possible step toward expanding the defense and security-focused tech firm’s services guarding the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Marines said Anduril’s system is the only one able to do the job for the bases.

The contract, reportedly worth $13.5 million, covers “autonomous surveillance counter-intrusion capability” at two bases in Japan, one in Hawaii, and one in Yuma, Ariz., near the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Anduril has been developing its Lattice platform technology that could form a virtual border wall on the country’s southern flank.

Anduril spokesman Eric Bormann told the Business Journal he could not provide further information than what was in the Federal Business Opportunities July 16 notification.

The system is estimated to be fully phased in by Sept. 20 and run for a one-year period with an option to extend it.

Lattice uses radar sensor-clad surveillance towers, drones, virtual reality technology, cameras and artificial intelligence to monitor large areas, and in Anduril’s words, allows “war fighters, first responders and law enforcement to act quickly with the best information available.”

The system is also being tested along part of the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent unauthorized entry into the country.

Ready for Action

“Anduril is the only known vendor with a fully integrated system at the appropriate technology readiness level” needed to meet the Corps’ requirements, the Marines Corps said in a note justifying the absence of full competitive bidding for the project.

The Marine Corps demanded technology that could “autonomously detect, identify, classify and track humans on foot, wheeled and tracked vehicles on land, surface swimmers, and surface vessels and boats.”

On June 10, the U.K.’s Royal Navy announced a partnership between its Royal Marines Commando force and Anduril, “to modernize surveillance systems and techniques by utilizing cutting edge technologies.” The Royal Navy said training will begin this summer and “be operational and deployed soon thereafter.”

Second Act

Luckey founded Oculus, a maker of virtual reality hardware and software products, in 2012.

Eighteen months later, Facebook bought it for $3 billion. It’s one of the fastest multibillion-dollar exit transactions on record, and vaulted Luckey’s wealth to a figure the Business Journal estimates at around $840 million.

Luckey left Facebook in 2017, returned to OC and started Anduril with support from venture giant Peter Thiel.

The company has built a new headquarters in Irvine near John Wayne Airport, which opened in the past month. n

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Kevin Costelloe
Kevin Costelloe
Tech reporter at Orange County Business Journal

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