Vehicle-borne smuggling is widespread because of the availability, flexibility and capacity of the cars and trucks. Inspecting vehicles at border crossings and checkpoints are key security elements. At the present time, most vehicle security inspections at home and abroad are conducted manually. Remotely operated vehicle inspection robots could be integrated into the operating procedures to improve throughput while reducing the workload burden on security personnel. The robotic inspection must be effective at detecting contraband and efficient at clearing the "clean" vehicles that make up the bulk of the traffic stream, while limiting the workload burden on the operators.
In this paper, we present a systems engineering approach to robotic vehicle inspection. We review the tactics, techniques and procedures to interdict contraband. We present an operational concept for robotic vehicle inspection within this framework, and identify needed capabilities. We review the technologies currently available to meet these needs. Finally, we summarize the immediate potential and R&D challenges for effective contraband detection robots.