How AI could help cut down airport security queues

January 30th 2019

Like most people, we at FreedomNews have occasionally been frustrated by queues and delays caused by security  screening at airports. We recognise the importance of security at major transport hubs, however, so any technology that can potentially improve safety and speed up the process has got to be a good thing.

That’s what a number of companies were hoping to demonstrate at a showcase event this week as part of the Government’s Future Aviation Security  Solutions (Fass) scheme, which is investing in innovative solutions.

AI could determine what we’re carrying in our pockets
One  company, Sequestim, wants travelers to avoid the need to turn out  their pockets and remove their coats – a familiar process to most air  passengers – by accurately scanning the contents of their pockets as they wear them. To do so, it’s using a more sensitive version of the  body scanners already in use in airports. It claims that cooling its sensors will allow the accurate scanning of people from up to eight metres away, while artificial intelligence (AI) will learn ‘what normal  looks like’ and identify suspicious items.

Sequestim’s Managing  Director Rob Spurrett said: ‘It won’t eliminate the need for a pat down, but will speed up the process by reducing the number of trays going through the scanners.’

Machine learning can learn what looks normal under the scanners
A  team of researchers from Durham University are also using AI to develop  a system that they hope stop passengers from having to remove liquids and electronics from their bags at security. Again, the AI would identify anything that looked suspicious as it went through the X-ray  scanners. It could learn what the inside of a laptop should look like, for example, and raise a flag if there is something in there it doesn’t recognise.

Other technologies showcased at the event included a portable scanner that can identify the materials that an item is made from, allowing staff to find hidden or contraband item without using  X-rays. Another was a pad designed to detect explosives hidden in shoes as people queue for security.

Developed by a company called  Scanna, the pad uses a grid of electrodes to scan the shoes as you stand on it, to determine what is inside. The company hopes that it can  eventually be used alongside body scanners to negate the need to remove  shoes at security.