Palmer Luckey, the 24-year-old founder of Oculus VR — the virtual reality company bought by Facebook in 2014 for more than $2 billion — is now working on “developing surveillance technology that could be deployed on borders between countries and around military bases,” according to the New York Times.
Luckey’s new company will look to use lidar — a technology that measures distances with laser light — along with infrared sensors and cameras to watch the border for undocumented immigrants, according to the report. The virtual border wall project is expected to received an investment from Peter Thiel’s investment firm, Founders Fund.
“We are spending more than ever on defense technology, yet the pace of innovation has been slowing for decades,” said Luckey in an email to the Times. “We need a new kind of defense company, one that will save taxpayer dollars while creating superior technology to keep our troops and citizens safer.”
It’s the first move for Luckey following his controversial exit from Facebook, after news emerged he was funding a pro-Trump group, Nimble America, which spread anti-Hillary Clinton memes online. After Luckey apologized for the $10,000 contribution, he went AWOL from the public eye for months, only popping up to deal with an intellectual property lawsuit against him and Facebook.
Since leaving Facebook in March, Luckey has reportedly been buying up property with his $730 million net worth — including missile silos and a marina in Orange County, CA.
The surveillance technology is a more “cost effective” option to President Trump’s border wall, according to those familiar with the plan. But its uses go beyond border control — Luckey believes it can be used to detect drones for home security and stadiums, according to the report.
For now, Luckey is self-financing the Southern California-based operation.